Founded in 1932 by W. Ray Hastings had a goal, which was to search for the best varieties of flowers and vegetables throughout the land. This is done in 48 trial gardens and 178 display gardens located coast to coast. Plants are tested for disease resistance and hardiness. Only the best receive the coveted AAS mark of excellence.

Here are some intresting facts furnished by AAS:

  • Highest number of AAS winners: 32 in 1932
  • Lowest number of AAS winners: 1954 and 1976
  • Total number of varieties introduced as AAS winners: 668
  • Flower class with most winners: petunia (65 winners)
  • Vegetable class with most winners: beans (36 winners)
  • Number of AAS judges: 61

There are three AAS winners for 2008, and here they are:

Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’

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Small blooms about 1 ½ inches across with gold petals around a plum colored center. Even though the blooms are on the small side, the abundance of blooms makes up for the small size.

Planting early in the north will produce blooms into the summer heat. Fall planting in the south will produce blooms throughout the winter.

This is an excellent container plant as it grows 6-8 inches tall.

This is a good choice for providing color in late fall and early spring when the rest of the landscape is drab.

Osteospermum ‘Asti White’

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If you like blooms that contain blue, you’ll like this one.

An excellent choice for dry areas as it tolerates drought conditions very well. White petals surrounding a blue center, it closely resembles a daisy.

It produces 2-2 ½ inches blooms on plants that grow to a height of 17-20 inches. This is another plant that is well suited for containers over 6 inches in diameter.

'Asti White' may be planted early in the spring much earlier than other annuals.

Eggplant ‘Hansel’

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There are not many miniature eggplants available. Hansel produces finger sized fruits 2-10 inches in length... Don't let the small size discourage you from this variety: what it lacks in size it makes up for in quantity.

The smaller fruits are tender and are not bitter like some of its larger cousins.

This is a must-have for all the gourmet cooks out there.

For those of you who lack space for a vegetable garden, 'Hansel' produces well in containers.

The fruits are ready to harvest about 55 days after transplanting.

Images and plant descriptions courtesy of All-America Selections®