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All-America Selections Winners for 2016

This Month's GCA Member Profile

GCA Tour Hotel Announced; Bus Captain Favorite Robert Hendrickson Scouting Destinations for 2016 GCA Summer Tour Portland, June 26-29

Garden Centers of America is pleased to announce that Embassy Suites Portland has been selected as the host hotel for the 2016 GCA Summer Tour in Portland, June 26-29. GCA organizers were able to negotiate a fantastic discounted rate for Portland in the summertime of $199 a night for tour-goers. The hotel's downtown Portland location is in the heart of the Pearl District surrounded by a vast number of restaurants and food carts, offering a delicious variety of cuisines to satisfy the most discerning of palates. But this isn’t just any Embassy Suites. This Portland classic was built in 1912 and renovated in 2014, offering historical ambiance with all of the modern conveniences including two-room suites, free in-room Internet access, a heated indoor pool, two hot tubs and discounted $10 self-parking for those who will be driving in.

As anticipation continues to build, GCA is sending Robert Hendrickson, Chief Story Teller for Next New Planet and Marketing Service Provider for The Garden Center Group, to scout out our list of potential IGC stops for the best garden centers that make Portland a hub of retail innovation.

Stay tuned for more tour updates as they are revealed at

All-America Selections Introduces Nine Exciting AAS Winners for the 2016 Garden Season

Anyone watching the movements of All-America Selections lately will notice an ever-increasing number of exciting and wonderful plants that are being named AAS Winners. This November announcement is no different with nine new plants that have been trialed by horticulture experts throughout North America and deemed worthy of the All-America Selections® brand.

All of the following new varieties were trialed during the 2015 growing season and exhibited outstanding garden performance as noted in each of the following descriptions.
This grouping of AAS Winners for 2016 includes:
Geranium Brocade Cherry Night (National)
Geranium Brocade Fire (National)
Pepper Cornito Giallo F1 (National)
Pepper Escamillo F1 (National)
Pumpkin Super Moon F1 (Regional: Southeast and Great Lakes)
Salvia Summer Jewel™ Lavender (Regional: Southeast, Heartland, Great Lakes)
Strawberry Delizz® F1 (National)
Tomato Candyland Red (National)
Tomato Chef’s Choice Green F1 (National)
With this announcement, these varieties become available for immediate sale to the commercial market. Brokers and growers can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find these Winners for sale for the 2016 gardening season as supply gradually becomes available throughout the chain of distribution. Garden communicators are free to begin writing about these varieties now, in preparation for next year’s gardens.
The first group of AAS Winners for 2016 was announced this past July and are also interesting additions for the consumer’s gardens and table:
Bunching Onion Warrior (Regional Winner: Southeast, Mountain/Southwest)
Mizuna Red Kingdom F1 (National Winner)
Radish Sweet Baby F1 (Regional Winner: Southeast, Great Lakes)
A complete list of trial grounds and the judges behind our awards can be found here.
A complete list of all AAS Winners since 1932 can be found here. Note that this list of AAS Winners can be sorted by Flowers from Seed, Flowers from Cuttings, and Vegetables.

Geranium Brocade Cherry Night
AAS 2016 Ornamental Vegetative Winner
National Winner

Striking foliage with large double blooms of cherry pink make Geranium Brocade Cherry Night an AAS Winner this year.  Gardeners looking for unique and distinct foliage to accent their containers and gardens will be delighted with Brocade Cherry Night.  The bronze leaves with green margins are a remarkable and unusual addition to any design.  Add the double bright cherry blooms and this heat tolerant geranium is your winner for any planter, container or garden!  More Info...  Bred by Dummen Orange

Geranium Brocade Fire
AAS 2016 Ornamental Vegetative Winner
National Winner

This 2016 AAS Winner, Geranium Brocade Fire, has unique bi-color foliage with a nonstop display of orange flowers that gives it an exceptional look in any garden.  Geranium Brocade Fire is ideal for combination planters, landscapes and garden beds. This robust plant keeps its distinguishing foliage color and brilliant blooms throughout the hot summers then becomes a fantastic transitional flower going into fall.  The orange flowers contrast with the striking foliage making this geranium a much appreciated and talked about new annual winner. More info...  Bred by Dummen Orange

Pepper Cornito Giallo F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

“DOUBLE YUM” was one judge’s response to our new AAS Winner Cornito Giallo F1 pepper, “The flavor on this one is totally a winner!”  Starting as small green fruits, this AAS Winner develops into bright yellow jewels with a delicious sweet and fruity flavor.  The peppers themselves are plentiful and durable, yet easy to eat fresh. Being an early bloomer, you will be able to enjoy these peppers throughout the growing season and well into the fall.  Plant Cornito Giallo F1 in your garden this year and you can join our judges in exclaiming “YUM!” More info...  Bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Pepper Escamillo F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

A wonderful sweet taste on a golden yellow pepper makes Pepper Escamillo F1, one of our 2016 AAS Winners.  An early bearing pepper plant with a compact habit makes it an ideal choice for any home garden. Gardeners will be captivated with the high yield of peppers per plant and how the fruit itself is held off the ground for easy picking and less rotting. This plant is a winner with its all around qualities of excellent taste either raw, cooked or fire roasted; its compact size and high yield. More info...  Bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Pumpkin Super Moon F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
Regional Winner: Great Lakes and Southeast

Love the look of white pumpkins for your fall holiday decor?  Then you will love our first-ever white pumpkin AAS Regional Winner Super Moon F1.  Our judges loved the nice, eye-appealing ghostly white coloration on the large, blemish-free round pumpkins.  Grown for their size, up to 50 lbs, and their clean white color, these hardy plants are known for their early fruit development and vigorous growth. Their stems are tough, hardy, disease-resistant and unstoppable!  When done decorating with these beauties, consider trying the yellow flesh for roasting or in your fall harvest soups.  More info...  Bred by Seeds By Design Inc.

Salvia Summer Jewel™ Lavender
AAS 2016 Ornamental Seed Winner
Regional Winner: Southeast, Heartland, Great Lakes

The fourth AAS Winner in the Summer Jewel™ series of popular AAS Salvia Winners is the newest in color, Summer Jewel™ Lavender.  The unique flower color of dusty lavender purple is a delight in the garden and flower containers as well as a major attractor of pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. An extra bonus is how much the Goldfinch loves these flower seeds in the fall.  It’s a photo-ready moment when these complementary colors of gold and lavender connect!  The early blooming, stable, compact uniform growth, and continuous flowering of this plant are additional positives to this plant.  More info...  Bred by Takii & Co. Ltd

Strawberry Delizz®  F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

What’s not to like about our first ever AAS strawberry winner Strawberry Delizz® F1?  These vigorous strawberry plants are easy to grow, from seed or transplant, and produce an abundant harvest throughout the growing season.  The best part though is the wonderful sweet strawberry burst of flavor from every handpicked berry. To enjoy fresh home-grown strawberries throughout the season, even in hot summer heat, look to Strawberry Delizz® F1.  These plants have a nice uniform and compact size making them perfect for containers, hanging baskets or garden plots. The hardest part of Strawberry Delizz® F1 won’t be the growing but having some strawberries left for anyone else to enjoy!  More info... Bred by ABZ Seeds

Tomato Candyland Red
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

Tomato Candyland Red is the only AAS award winning currant-type tomato. Currant tomatoes are smaller in size than cherry-type and are ready to “pop” in your mouth straight from the garden.  Gardeners will appreciate the dark red, sweet flavored fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the season.  The tomato plant itself has a nice tidier habit than other currant-type plants with the fruit tending to form on the outside of the plant making them easier to harvest. More info...  Bred by PanAmerican Seed Company
Tomato Chef’s Choice Green F1
AAS 2016 Edible Winner
National Winner

Looking for a uniquely colored yet delicious tomato with which to impress your foodie friends?  Then look no further than this AAS Winner, Tomato Chef’s Choice Green F1. The newest addition to the Chef’s Choice series produces beautiful green colored fruits with subtle yellow stripes and a wonderful citrus-like flavor and perfect tomato texture. You’ll enjoy this disease free plant throughout the season with its dark green leaves and well-behaved form. You’ll be the envy of all your tomato loving friends! More info...  Bred by Seeds By Design Inc.
All-America Selections® was founded in 1932 and continues as the oldest independent testing organization in North America. Every year, new, never-before-sold varieties are trialed in our Trial Grounds and professional horticulturists determine which varieties will be deemed winners based on their garden performance. AAS relies upon a public relations program to inform gardeners about AAS National and Regional Winners that are announced three times each year.


June 26, 2016 • Portland, OR
August 02, 2016 • Valley Forge Casino Resort | Philadelphia Metro Area, PA
August 16, 2016 • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

EIGC - The Eastern Show for IGCs 'Wins Big' with Upcoming Event at Valley Forge Casino Resort, August 2-4, 2016, Master Nursery Garden Centers Selects EIGC for Eastern Member Meeting

IGC Show organizers just announced EIGC - The Eastern Show for IGCs event will be held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, located just outside Philadelphia in King of Prussia, PA. Valley Forge Casino Resort combines the amenities of a top-notch gaming resort with exhibit space, plus ballrooms and classrooms for EIGC’s three keynotes and 30 hours of educational sessions.

EIGC maintains its previously announced scheduling of August 2-4, 2016, as well as its fresh niche focus on the special interests of Eastern IGC retailers - the only change is the venue.

“We had an amazing opportunity to move from a run-of-the-mill expo center to the Valley Forge Casino Resort, and we jumped on it,” says IGC Show Co–founder Jeff Morey. “We expect to win big with a full house of attendees and exhibitors, who will enjoy everything EIGC offers in one central hot spot - order-writing at the trade show, regionally relevant retail education conference sessions and an all-star concert Tuesday evening.”

In addition to offering slots and table games for gaming enthusiasts, the Valley Forge Casino Resort offers seven diverse on-site dining options, including celebrity chef Luke Palladino’s LP Steak, a newly renovated spa and fitness center, easy access from all major roads and free valet parking daily - all in an area that draws visitors with a range of options in evening dining and entertainment. 

Master Nursery Garden Centers will hold its Eastern Regional Member Meeting at EIGC – The Eastern Show for IGCs. "We were extremely happy at IGC East this past summer. We had the highest turnout in years - way up from the other venues of past years,” says Jeff Lafferty, Master Nursery’s CEO. “Our booth was jammed, and we wrote a lot of orders from members. Now, we are excited about next summer’s EIGC show at Valley Forge Casino Resort.”

IGC Chicago vendors who exhibit at EIGC will enjoy a “Lucky 13% Discount” on their EIGC booth space,in honor of the IGC Show’s 10-year anniversary this year in Chicago and 3 years in the East. IGC Chicago brings its time-tested “100% Independent” formula for retail success back to Chicago’s Navy Pier for next summer’s very special 10th Anniversary Celebration, August 16-18, 2016. 

Watch for more details about the special offerings and excitement at both IGC Shows next summer, coming soon. For more information, visit For photos and posts from the 2015 IGC Shows, join the IGC Show’s Social Network at Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


Geri Nolan, Co-owner
Fruit of the Bloom GC, Wauwatosa, WI
Expert Plant Knowledge, Targeted Offerings Draw Loyal Customers to Fruit of the Bloom Garden Center

Drawing in the drivers from the busy North Avenue in Wauwatosa, WI, Fruit of the Bloom Garden Center is the community’s “go-to” source for all its gardening needs and plant knowledge. Geri Nolan co-owns the seasonal business with Bill Bradshaw, where they sell annuals, perennials, unique hanging baskets, herbs, vegetables, soils and fertilizers.

Fruit of the Bloom’s diverse, quality selection of green goods keeps its customers returning every year. “We’ve been in business since 1988, and I see the same families year after year,” Geri says. “I’ve seen young mothers bringing in their young children, and now, those children have grown up, and they’re bringing in their young children.”

The garden center draws customers from the local areas of Milwaukee, Elm Grove and Brookfield, then from the farther west lake cities of Delafield, Oconomowoc and Pewaukee. Shoppers drive from counties all along the lakeshore, too. “I’m always surprised at how far our store draws people from,” Geri says.

The friendly, fun and relaxing environment that Geri and Bill have created at Fruit of the Bloom has allowed it to blossom as an unofficial community meeting place for its customers. “On the weekend, our store becomes the ‘go-to’ place for all the local mothers to come in with their coffee and catch up with their neighbors,” she says.

In addition to her loyal fan base, Geri has a loyal staff who keeps coming back to work for her and Bill year after year. Two or three members of their staff are certified Master Gardeners, including Geri herself, bringing a plethora of plant knowledge to the retail experience offered at Fruit of the Bloom. “All of my employees are local people and avid gardeners, so they know which plants grow best in our climate and soil to educate our customers,” she says. 

To ensure the success of their green goods in the Wisconsin environment, Geri and Bill buy their plants from more than a dozen different growers located in the same state. “The majority of the growers we’ve been working with for 20 plus years,” she says.

As a first-year Garden Centers of America member, Geri had the privilege of touring other garden centers in Wisconsin on the 2015 GCA Summer Tour. “Going on the local Milwaukee tour this summer was excellent,” she says. “It’s very hard to get out and see what other nurseries and garden centers in my area are doing. To have that three-day time period where you get on the tour bus and have a tour guide take you around, it’s wonderful.”

Geri captured many great ideas she saw on the tour with her iPad to reference later and to show her staff. Beyond the ideas to incorporate into her store, Geri had a chance to talk to and learn from growers at Ebert’s Greenhouse Village.

“They shared information on fertilizing their hanging baskets, which were fabulous,” she says. “Everybody is so willing to share their information, and I learn so much from them.” Fruit of the Bloom is known for its unique hanging basket combinations - a niche she may further perfect with advice from Ebert’s growers.

Geri declares her appreciation for all the hard work the featured destinations put into the tour.

“I would like to compliment the retailers who are stops on these tours and allow us to come in and critique them,” she says. “By the end of June, garden centers are somewhat winding down from the busy spring season. But these retailers have to keep their store looking fabulous and their plants looking peak so that they can show off their best. I’m very impressed with all the work that must go into hosting other garden center owners.”

Aside from going on the summer tour, Geri lists meeting new people and networking as key benefits of being a member in GCA. “Networking has helped me a lot,” she says. “Even though I’ve only been on two tours, I remembered a lot of the people I met on the first tour.”

The Family That Urban Farms Together

Before opening their garden center, Geri and Bill had professions outside of horticulture. Geri was a special education teacher, and Bill was an attorney; both graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison. The desire to dive into the fascinating world of plants and to open their own garden center developed when they helped their farmer friends sell produce at the local farmer’s market in Madison, WI.

“Bill and I decided to give it a try, and we started out our first year partnered with growers in Milwaukee for a total of six locations,” Geri says. “But over the years, we closed the different locations for various reasons, so now we just have the one location in Wauwatosa.”

For the first couple years, Geri’s mother and father worked for her and Bill in the garden center, then her sisters helped out around the store. Now, her nieces and nephews work at Fruit of the Bloom.

Geri’s appreciation for plants stemmed from helping her parents tend and maintain the garden plot they had at the Waukee Country Gardens when she was a child. “I come from a family of seven kids,” she says. “We would drive up to the garden plot in our family’s station wagon with five-gallon buckets of water. We would water the garden then pick the produce.”

Offerings Targeted Toward Local Market

Fruit of the Bloom’s wide selection of green goods not only caters to the growing environment of Wisconsin, it satisfies the needs of their customers. For instance, Geri notes that a lot of local chefs will shop their selection of herbs and vegetables for the restaurants because they support the farm-to-table movement.

“Many restaurants in this area are going toward buying local or growing their own vegetables and herbs in rooftop gardens,” she says.

Over the years, Geri and Bill have invested in more outdoor shade cloth to accommodate their customers while they shop outside. “It’s a nice comfortable atmosphere, and customers tend to stay and shop longer,” she says. “They’re more willing to look at other plants than what they came in for.”

With almost three decades in the industry and a keen sense of what the locals are shopping for, Fruit of the Bloom establishes itself as the community’s gardening destination that garners a loyal fan base of repeat customers year after year.

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