The dismal, winter weather has kept some from thinking of gardening, but it has inspired many others to get started. One of the most popular and widely distributed appraisals of new varieties of seed are those of the All American Selection committee. They recently released the 1992 award winners. There are seven winners this year that exhibit significant improvements and unique characteristics for both growers and home gardeners. All American Selections are tested in trial locations across North America for their quality and beauty.

Canna "Tropical Rose" is the first canna to be selected for this honor. It is the first canna to come from the seeds rather than the rhizomes. "Tropical Rose" has pastel blooms with wide arching leaves and makes an attractive background for other shorter annuals. It does best in full sun in rich, well-prepared soil. Cannas are perennial but in our areas must be treated as an annual or summer bulb. The plant takes three to four months from sowing to flowering, so those who want to try it from seed should start planting as soon as possible.Salvia coccinea "Lady in Red" is a compact perennial salvia. It resembles a wild flower but will do well in many areas of the garden. The plant grows 12-15 inches high and has red, tubular flowers. The arrangement is different from that of other garden salvias, as they are arranged in separate whorls on the flower spike. It tolerates full sun as well as heat and drought. It requires little if any care, and as a perennial, should come back each year.

Verbena "Peaches and Cream" is a beautiful blend of apricot and salmon flowers. This is highly unusual for a verbena, and few other annuals have this color combination. Like other verbenas, it is tolerant of heat and dry weather and full sun. It flowers freely throughout the summer on a plant spreading 10-12 inches. Plants are compact and do not require pinching or pruning.

Dianthus "F1 Ideal Violet" is an improved dianthus that flowers profusely. The violet or deep purple flowers are a rare color for dianthus. The flowers are large (1-11/2 inches) with a smallwhite center. It has both heat and cold tolerance, which gives it a longer period of bloom. The plants are larger than other dianthus and, with proper fertilization and irrigation, get 10-12 inches high with a spread of about 12-14 inches. This is a sure-fire winner for gardens in our area.

Vinca "Pretty in White" is an improved, glossy-leaf vinca that gives a profusion of white flowers for the duration of the growing season. Vincas are strong, durable plants, and "Pretty in White" is both heat resistant and tolerant of severe weather. Vincas seldom have any pest problems in our area. They do best in full sun and tolerate our warm, dry conditions. They are tropical in origin, so do not plant them outdoors until all danger of frost is past.

In addition to the flowers, two vegetables made the All American Selections. "Thumbelina" is an improved, round carrot that is easily grown from seed. Round carrots are fun to grow and are tolerant of most soils. This small carrot can be grown in window boxes, patio planters or other containers. They can be spaced close, about 1 inch apart. This means less work thinning and fewer weeds to grow in between them. The carrots are harvested 60-70 days from sowing.

"Fernleaf" is an herb that is an All American winner. Having grown dill in my garden on numerous occasions, I learned that it becomes very robust and reaches 4 to 6 feet tall. This makes it unmanageable for most herb gardens. "Fernleaf" is a miniature dill that can be grown in small gardens or containers. It is used the same as other dill, as the difference is in the height of the plant, not in the flavor or quality. Herbs are becoming increasingly popular as we try to eliminate salt, cholesterol and other problems from our diet. Dill is used in cooking, in seasoning and in the pickling process. The yellow flowers and deep green foliage can also be used for aromatic, fresh flower bouquets.

In addition to this year's All American Selections, there are other selections from previous years. Look over these new introductions, and the others, and you will find some that fulfill your fancy. Check garden catalogs and seed racks early to get the best selection of these and other outstanding varieties for your garden. The W. Atlee Burpee Seed Co. along with many others have the 1992 varieties. Request a catalog from them at Burpee Seed Co., Warminster, PA 18974.