Marigold Siam Gold has dark green mounding foliage that contrasts beautifully with the fully double golden orange flowers. (Photo courtesy All American Selections)

Winter is a time for creating the perfect garden on paper and in your imagination, whether it is a vegetable garden or a flower garden, or better yet, a vegetable garden with flowers planted in and around the vegetables to welcome the pollinators.
Most annuals need to wait until the soil is warm to the touch and past the last frost day, just about Mother’s Day in Maryland.
The All American Selections are an independent non-profit organization that tests new, never before sold varieties for the home garden, and the seeds and or plants are trialed by volunteer horticulture professionals all across the United States, and only the top garden performers are given the AAS Winner award destination for their superior performance.
This year, the top flowers include celosia, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petchoa (a combination of a petunia and calibrachoa), petunia, and verbena.
Celosia Burning Embers has colorful bronze foliage with dark pink veins that contrast beautifully with the upright pink plumes of flowers.
Like all Celosia, Burning Embers needs full sun, moist well drained soils to grow to its height of 8-9 inches.
These vibrant flowers will bloom from late spring to first hard frost, tolerating both heat and humidity.
They will thrive in containers or in the first row of flowers with a long blooming time that welcomes pollinators.
Geranium Big EEZE geraniums grow well in containers with excellent heat tolerance, and the newest addition, Pink Batik has all that plus beautify bicolored pink petals.
Pink Batik needs full sun and moist but well drained soils to produce its dark green leaves that create the perfect backdrop for the large, mosaic-style petals in varying shades of dark and light pink.
Solarscape Impatiens have superior disease resistance to downy mildew which made growing impatiens almost impossible for years.
Pink Jewel will grow in shade and sun with a mounding habit, growing 11-13 inches tall, and will bloom from late spring to frost.
Unlike the other impatiens, Pink Jewel will rebound from drought stress without dropping the buds, making this vibrant pink bloomer perfect for both gardens and containers.
They will need to be watered often to get the plants established but once they are at home in the garden they need a medium amount of watering, allowing them to produce an extremely high number of vibrant satiny pink flowers.
Marigold Siam Gold has dark green mounding foliage that contrasts beautifully with the fully double golden orange flowers.
Like all marigolds these plants need full sun and are drought tolerant, growing 18-20 inches tall and creating 3–4-inch large golden flowers.
The well branched stems help make Siam Gold a lovely cut flower as well. Petchoa EnViva has bright pink petals with a bright yellow throat, perfect for attracting a lot of pollinators!
The plants are very heat tolerant and the flowers bounce back after every rain. Petchoa is a hybrid of a petunia and a calibrachoa, and can only be found from cuttings.
They thrive in full sun, tolerant of heat, wind and rain, growing 18-24 inches tall, excellent in the garden or in containers.
EnViva has a strong mounding habit that is covered with hot pink flower that bloom from late spring to frost.
Sure Shot White petunias are not fussy, thriving in the garden or containers despite the sun and heat, rain and cold, covering the bright green foliage with pure white lightly fragrant flowers that attract a lot of pollinators.
The plants grow in full sun, growing 16-22 inches tall, and bloom best with regular watering and fertilizer.
Verbena Sweetheart Kisses has a riot of vibrant red, rose, pink and white flowers that sit over delicate airy foliage.
Plants are drought tolerant, thriving in full sun and growing 10-16 inches tall, and can create a beautiful groundcover or cascade over a container.
Plants will grow in gardens and in containers, blooming from early spring to frost, and each flower is a small bouquet that is very attractive to pollinators of all kinds.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)