Posted by James E. Klett, Professor, Colorado State University, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
One hundred and sixteen varieties were evaluated in the 2015-16 Cool Season Trials from planting in mid-October 2015 through April 2016. At the end of the observations, eight plants were selected by the Annual Trial Garden Committee as top-rated performers. All varieties were monitored and observed weekly during the trial period. Plants were watered when the soil was dry and the temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but we had good snow cover for about two months of the trial period. The eight winners are listed below.
Best of Show Pansy
Cool Wave® Frost from Pan American. This is a spreading type of pansy and would be excellent for hanging baskets. This variety had good flower cover producing many blooms in a multi-color pastel blue and white.
Best Blue/Violet Pansy
Inspire® Plus Marina from Benary. This pansy had a soft blue color with a contrasting eye of golden yellow. This is a traditional more upright type pansy with a very uniform habit with short pedicels and upward facing flowers.
Best Yellow Pansy
Freefall® Golden Yellow from Flora Nova. This is again a spreading variety that would be excellent for baskets. The flowers are a clear golden yellow with prominent darker whiskers in center flower. It again provided excellent flower cover over the entire plant.
Best Orange Pansy
Spring Matrix® Orange Deep from Pan American. This is a new category for 2015-16 since we had a lot of orange pansy entries. It is a traditional more upright growing pansy with deep orange, frilly flowers. This variety overwintered extremely well.
Pan American Seed Company’s Sorbet® XP Series dominated in each of the categories in this year’s cool season trial.
Best of Show and Best Blue Violet Category
Sorbet® XP Beaconsfield Improved won in both of these categories because of its eye-catching bicolor viola with a deep blue/violet center that faded to a lighter blue/violet with a nice bright orange eye. It had excellent flower cover and overall would add great curb appeal.
Best Yellow Viola Category
Sorbet® XP Yellow Blotch from Pan American. The flower color was a deep yellow with a nice chocolate blotch. It had very uniform growth habit with strong flower stems and a very even flower cover.
Best White Viola Category
Sorbet® XP White Blotch. This variety had a very uniform and consistent growth habit with many flowers with very large flowers for a viola. The flower color was white with a bluish blush.
Best Novelty Viola
This is also a new class this year with Sorbet® XP Orange Jump Up winning the honor. Flowers were a stunning contrast of deep violet and vibrant orange and flowers showed no sign of fading.