Concert Bell Sunflower is a national winner, which means it thrived in gardens all across the country. (Photo courtesy AAS)

The All-America Selection of plants is the only national non-profit plant trial organization in North America.
Their mission is “to promote new garden varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.”
They judge both flowering plants and vegetables for home gardens, and the winners have outstanding colors, flavors and disease resistance.
For 2022 the flowering annuals for the summer garden are all pollinator friendly and include a beautiful rose flowering begonia, a sunny yellow petunia, a lovely sunflower and a vibrant dark blue and yellow Torenia.
The Begonia Viking Explorer has deep green foliage and 2 1/2-inch dark rose flowers that are held above the foliage. Plants are tolerant of heat, drought, rain and pollution, and are resistant to Powdery mildew, Botrytis and Anthracnose. Begonia Viking Explorer thrives in hanging baskets and in the garden with a wonderful spreading form.
The sunny yellow Bee’s Knees petunia is this year’s Gold Medal winner, with deep yellow non-fading, self-cleaning, open trumpet shaped flowers that bloom against dark green foliage.
Plants grow in a mounding and spreading fashion, perfect for containers, baskets and as a groundcover in sunny locations.
These Bee’s Knees will flower from spring to frost with the addition of a slow release granular fertilizer.
Concert Bell Sunflower is a national winner, which means it thrived in gardens all across the country. It gives the garden a beautiful 5- to-6-inch sunflower on the top of the stem surrounded by multiple 3- to-4-inch sunflowers down the stem, creating a full bouquet with one stem. The plants grow 5-6 feet tall and if seeded in full sun, well-drained soils every three weeks will provide blooming sunflowers until frost.
Concert Bell holds up in heat, rain and wind.
Vertigo is a new Torenia, also known as a wishbone flower, which thrives in warm climates.
It grows with a well-branched compact habit, light glossy green leaves and large long blooming flowers of deep blue surrounding sky blue and yellow centers that don’t fade even in full sun.
Some of the edible vegetable plants that made up the 2022 AAS winners includes a long thin white eggplant, a dark green bouquet of oakleaf lettuce, a tasty dark purple pepper and three new tomatoes.
Icicle is a long, slender white fleshed eggplant that has fewer spines and fewer seeds, making it tastier and easier to harvest.
The sturdy upright habit keeps the Icicle fruit off the ground for easier harvesting.
Bauer is a national winner, performing well all across the country in spring and early fall.
It’s a tasty oak-leaf lettuce that can be harvested at the baby leaf stage or allowed to grow to the large bouquet size with dark green sweet and crispy leaves.
This lettuce is perfect for home gardens and aeroponic systems.
Dragonfly pepper plants are also a national winner, with sweet four-lobed dark purple peppers that are edible as young green or more mature dark purple.
The first of the tomatoes is Pink Delicious and it is a great combination of the flavor and look of a heirloom with modern disease resistance and ease of germination.
Pink Delicious matures early with uniform size. The fruit has an excellent flavor and high Brix, which equals sweetness.
The next tomato, Sunset Torch, is a small cluster tomato that is orange with a rose blush, a fruity flavor and firm texture.
The plants have an open growing habit making harvesting easy, and it is very resistant to many of the verticillium wilt diseases.
The Purple Zebra tomato presents a dark red fruit with green stripes and the interior is a red mahogany color.
The tomato taste is sweet and slightly acidic, while the plant is resistant to verticillium wilts, some virus and late blight.
Each of the 2022 plants would be excellent additions to the gardens on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)