Pride of Kansas is a rather new program that is gaining popularity across the state. Co-sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Nursery and Landscape Assn., this program aims to promote trees, shrubs and flowers that do well all across the state.
The 2002 Pride of Kansas plants have been announced. Here's what to expect if you choose to plant them in your home landscape.
Tree of the year
Prairiefire Crabapple is extremely adaptable in zones 4-8 and has been selected because of its resistance to foliar disease. This 20-foot tree has red flower buds that open to a deep pinkish-red. The flowers are 1/2 inch in diameter, and the fruit is a reddish purple. The width of the tree matches its height. It's an outstanding ornamental tree for Kansas landscapes.
Prairiefire holds its foliage during the summer. This crabapple blooms later in the spring than other varieties, and its green-bronze foliage is supported by glossy, dark red bark.
Shrub of the year
Emerald Triumph viburnum is a beautiful hybrid that can handle the Kansas climate. The flowers of this round, compact shrub are a showy creamy white with a flat top. The glossy green foliage is an excellent choice for landscapes in shaded and partial sun areas.
Emerald Triumph grows to 6 feet tall with red fruit that turns black in the fall. This plant was chosen as one of the best viburnums for Kansas.
Perennial of the year
Rudbeckia Goldsturm of the daisy family is a showy, hardy flower. This well-known perennial can be found throughout Kansas. It has proved to have long visual excellence and requires minimal care.
Commonly called coneflower or black-eyed Susan, this flower originated in 1937 from Germany. Goldsturm begins flowering in mid- to late summer with spectacular gold rays of petals surrounding a rounded dark brown disk. This variety grows to a height of 2 feet and forms large colonies of plants.
This plant has been used extensively in Kansas for a very good reason. Goldsturm is easy to grow, prefers full sun and thrives in most soils. This easy-to-grow plant is a success for most homeowners. It's an adaptable complement to other plants and works well in the landscape or perennial garden.
Annual of the year
The Cooler Series vinca is an excellent choice for a colorful addition to the garden or landscape. It's difficult to find a tougher annual than periwinkle. The series comes in an array of color choices and can withstand climatic extremes.
These vincas grow to an average height of 10 inches with clumps of flowers that spread 10 to 14 inches. The 1-inch flowers with overlapping petals work well for massing and tuck into landscapes where you need a splash of maintenance-free color.
While more tolerant to cool weather than other varieties, this heat-loving plant does best in full sun and gives continuous quality blooms the entire summer. The plant branches early in the season with dark green foliage. Color varieties are raspberry, peppermint, apricot and pink.
Bruce Chladny is horticulture agent at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County. For more information, call him at 843-7058 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.