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The Flower Show

2021 Gold Medal Plant Winners

2021 GMP Hero Revised

PHS has awarded its Gold Medal to seven exceptional plants in 2021, selected especially for home gardens in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

The Gold Medal Plant program evaluates trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials for their ease of cultivation, ready commercial availability, and wildlife value. Gold Medal winners offer multiple seasons of interest for gardeners and are chosen for their hardiness in zones 5 to 7, although many are also suitable for other regions.

2021 Winners

Cercis canadensis ‘Appalachian Red’

Photo: Lisa Strovinsky

A cultivar of one of the mid-Atlantic’s best spring-flowering small native trees, ‘Appalachian Red’ has clear, bright rose-pink flowers for 2-3 weeks in April cloaking the tree’s bare branches before the foliage emerges. Appropriate as a street or yard tree for compact spaces. Grows 15-25’.

Needs & Value: Full Sun - Part Shade, Medium Water  |  Wildlife Value, Deer Resistant

Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’

Photo: George Weigel

A slightly more compact selection of our native black-eyed Susan, with smaller foliage that is resistant to disease, this cheerful perennial blooms from July to September. Grows 24”.

Needs & Value: Sun, Low - Medium Water  |  Pollinator, Native, Deer Resistant

Paeonia ‘Bartzella’

Photo: Lisa Strovinsky

A hybrid between a tree and herbaceous peony, this selection features dozens of fragrant, semi-double, sulpher-yellow 8” blossoms arranged on sturdy stems that don’t require staking. After flowering, foliage retains its rich green throughout the season. Grows 4’.

Needs & Values: Sun, Medium Water  |  Deer Resistant

Hydrangea paniculata Bobo®

Photo: George Weigel

A dwarf variety, this heavily flowering shrub features large conical clusters of white flowers beginning in midsummer, which fade to pink and persist into the fall. Blooms on new wood, so tolerant of hard freezes and over-pruning. A great choice for the front of the border or in a container. Grows 30-36”.

Needs & Value: Full sun - Part Shade, Medium Water  |  Deer resistant

Platanus x acerfolia Exclamation!™

2021_GMP_Platanus-x-acerifolia Exclamation_02
Photo: Lisa Strovinsky

For over a century, the London planetree has been a classic tree in the urban landscape, prized for its grand proportions, pollution tolerance, and beautiful exfoliating bark. Exclamation!™ is an improved cultivar; lightly fruiting, upright pyramidal habit, and most importantly, resistance to anthracnose, which causes premature foliage drop. Grows 60’.

Needs: Full sun - Part sun - Shade, High - Medium - Low water

Sarcococca hookeriana ‘Fragrant Valley’

Photo: Lisa Strovinsky

An elegant evergreen groundcover with small, glossy foliage, this slowly spreading suckering shrub is perfect for dry shade. A more compact, uniform selection with minuscule, wonderfully fragrant flowers in March. Grows 18”.

Needs & Value: Part Shade - Shade, Medium - Low Water  |  Deer Resistant

Dryopteris x australis

Photo: Lisa Strovinsky

A wonderfully statuesque vertical element in the shade garden, our native Dixie Wood fern has bright green, glossy, upright fronds that are mostly evergreen in winter. Grows 4-5’.

Needs & Value: Full - Part Shade, Medium Water  |  Deer Resistant, Native

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Selection Process

Since 1979, the Gold Medal program has honored and promoted woody plants of outstanding merit. The program was originally conceived by noted nurseryman Dr. J. Franklin Styer, who realized that gardeners needed to learn about superior woody plants for their landscapes. 

In general, plants are nominated from submissions by home gardeners, garden designers, horticulturists, landscape architects, nursery owners and plant propagators.

Once nominated, plants are reviewed by a committee of expert horticulturists, through in-person discussions and an evaluative assessment tool, the Gold Medal Plant Committee annually recommends plants that meet the rigorous criteria for excellence. 

Gardeners who acquire a Gold Medal-designated plant can be assured the plant will exhibit the highest standard of beauty in the landscape, as well as pest and disease resistance and ease of cultivation.