What does it mean to be an AAS Gold Medal Winner?
All-America Selections launched in 1932 as a way for home gardeners to learn which new varieties of flowers and vegetables have superior garden performance. To do so, those new varieties were trialed by volunteer judges at various companies and universities across North America.
The mission of All America Selections:
“To promote new garden varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.”
In 1933 the first AAS Winners were announced
AAS Winners have been introduced to the public every year thereafter.
For many years, there were two types of awards
AAS Gold Medal Winners (reserved for a breeding breakthrough) and the AAS Winners (recognition for a cultivar superior to others on the market.) In the past decade, the organization moved to recognize regional performance as well as national performance. There are now three award types: Gold Medal, National, and Regional.
Breeding breakthroughs are rare
So the coveted Gold Medal Award is awarded only once or twice a decade. Read below to learn more about the AAS Gold Medal Winners from the past few decades that are still available in the market today!
AAS Gold Medal Winners include:
AAS Gold Medal Profusion Zinnias
Many gardeners are familiar with the Profusion series of zinnias. Three of the original colors, orange, white, and cherry, were AAS Gold Medal Winners between 1999-2001. The Profusion series is known for its huge color selection, outstanding performance, and heat and humidity tolerance. Self-branching plants reach about 14 inches high and wide. Flower production starts approximately 9 weeks from seeding.
The newest 2021 Gold Medal Winner from the Profusion series is the Red Yellow Bicolor. Bright gold blossoms sport vibrant red centers. Newly opened blooms are vividly bright then, as they age, morph into soft, beautiful shades of apricot, salmon, and dusty rose to bring a plethora of color to the garden, all from one variety.
Unique New Gold Medal Winners
In 2003 and 2004 two unique new varieties were named AAS Gold Medal Winners. Ornamental Millet Purple Majesty F1 won in 2003 as a new use for an old plant. Capable of growing 3 to 5 feet tall, the deep purple-leaved plants are embellished with 8- to 12-inch spikes. The immature spikes can be cut and used dramatically in floral arrangements. Left on the plant, the millet seed spike attracts birds that snack on the seed. Purple Majesty is very easy to grow and is tolerant of heat and low moisture.
Celosia Fresh Look Red was a 2004 Gold Medal Winner that performs like a fresh floral arrangement all summer. Thriving in the summer heat and humidity regardless of drought or rainy conditions, Fresh Look Red decorates a garden or patio container with rosy red plumes. Fresh Look Red covers up spent plumes by producing new foliage and blooms. The plant always looks fresh, needing no grooming.
AAS Vegetable Gold Medal Winners
The 1970s brought two edibles to the AAS Gold Medal Winners….. In 1972 Cabbage Ruby Ball won for being an early cabbage that lasts in the garden without splitting. The dark red exterior and great internal color and taste that wowed the judges continues to impress today.
In 1977 Sugar Snap Pea changed the way we think of peas! Gone were the stringy pods that were inedible. The mature pods of Sugar Snap are round with fleshy walls that are crisp and delicious through full maturity. With Sugar Snap Peas you get to eat the entire crisp, sweet pod with the peas nestled inside.
Now you have some insights into the characteristics a new variety must possess to win an esteemed AAS Gold Medal.
Try any of the many AAS Winners and you’ll see why we say “The Proof is in the Plant!”
“This post is provided as an education/inspirational service of All-America Selections. Please credit and link to All-America Selections when using all or parts of this article.”