Welcome to the annual Classic City Awards!

The Best in Color and Fun goes to:

Selected as a Classic City Award Winner, it is impossible not to smile when passing by this phenomenal beauty! Classic City Awards 2022.

The Best in Shade goes to:

The Crystal Moon is a shade variety that lights up any wooded space making it a Classic City Award Winner in 2022. Classic City Awards 2022.

The Best in Moist & Dry Conditions goes to:

This new Vinca hybrid, a Classic City Award Winner, is a part of the beloved Soiree collection that has wowed us for many years. Classic City Awards 2022.

The Awards

While the category titles are mine, these award-winning plants are just three of the twelve that won the Classic City Award in 2022. The winners of a Classic City Award are the very best plants in the UGA Trial Gardens over the entire season, well worth a place in any landscape. See the 2022 winners here

The Classic City Awards are not only selected by a dedicated team at the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia. The team itself manages the gardens that produce the plants from which data is gathered that lead to the selection of the best annuals and perennials for the hot and humid climate of Georgia.

“When we provide real data under real world conditions, we do so in the belief that someone, breeders, growers, retailers and consumers, will pay attention.  Quality is not limited to fertility standards and spacing, quality is also what consumers, from landscapers to buyers, see when they have a little money to spend.” Dr. John Ruter, director of the Trial Gardens, professor, and ornamental plant breeder at UGA. 

The Gardens

If you want to know which plants are best in the industry, look no further than the University of Georgia Trial Gardens. Established in 1982, the Trial Gardens have become the source of data for serious plant enthusiasts and professionals.

The UGA Trial Gardens are located in Athens. The primary functions of the gardens are research, teaching and new crop introduction. The gardens are open to the public and professionals, and information on the plants tried in the gardens is available online.

The gardens play an important role in evaluating and introducing new crops for the greenhouse and landscape industries. Protocols are in place which allow the Trial Gardens team to cull plants from the program so that only the best remain. If the plants “make the cut” they are distributed nationally.

Located in Athens, when in bloom, the UGA Trial Gardens are a lush and colorful place to visit. UGA Trial Gardens.

The Trials

Every two weeks, from May through September, every cultivar is evaluated for “horticultural” performance. The performance ratings are based on number of flowers, leaf color, uniformity of habit and flower, resistance to insects and diseases and overall appearance. 

The data are combined into a single performance rating, based on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being exceptional, 1 being almost dead. The ratings are then used to generate a graph of performance over time and are updated at every evaluation date. Perennials remain in the garden for at least three years. (

Many of these plants take years to make it to the market, but some do. As an industry professional, I find it fun to see what growers are coming up with and then see what ends up at the local nursery.

The Results

 This collection of Comparative Data for Annuals – 2022 allows you to search the plants in a variety of ways. You can search for results on all the plants studied that season or break it down by Genus. You can search by the company name that created the plant. You can sort the list by Rating, Species or Cultivar. The website also provides detailed information on how to read the results of the trials.

The data collected from the Trial Gardens is a great resource to use when considering what plants to select for a job site because it tells you what plants made it. Growers are constantly coming up with new plants, but when the plants get to the store, we never know if they will do well in Georgia or not. The UGA Trial Gardens provide the hard data that help us predict the success of plants in the landscape.

Visiting the gardens is a way to experience first-hand the excitement of the work done there. They are located at 1030 West Green Street, Athens, GA 30602-7273. For more information, call (706) 583-0285 or learn more by visiting their website here.

We at Art of Stone Gardening take our work seriously. We want to know which plants will flourish in the landscapes that we propose, design and install. Using this kind of resource allows us to provide winning results to our clients’ landscaping projects.

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