AAS Landscape Design Challenge Winners Noelridge Park Gardens

Oct 12, 2023
2023 AAS Display Garden Landscape Design Challenge winners crowned

All-America Selections has announced the winners of its 2023 Landscape Design Challenge.

The AAS Display Gardens were tasked with using their AAS-winning flowers and plants in and around a theme of “A Whimsical Garden!” and each garden staff came up with a wide variety of ways to showcase their own garden’s whimsy in and among their AAS Winners! 

For the challenge, AAS provided the gardens with recent AAS winner seeds and plants, along with variety markers that, for the first time, included a QR code that sends users to the AAS website for that variety. 

The gardens had the option to also incorporate older AAS winners in their design to illustrate the theme. Gardens were encouraged to generate publicity and hold events to share the story of All-America Selections and AAS winners.

Category I: Under 10,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: Mississippi State Univ-South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station, Poplarville, Mississippi

AAS Landscape Design Challenge Winners Mississippi State University

The AAS Display Garden at Mississippi State University’s South Miss Branch Experiment Station is a whimsical garden with a bridge, gazebo, and ornamental hardscape features. The garden features 24 ornamental and 10 vegetable AAS-winning varieties. Visitors can enjoy the flow of the color palette as they walk through the garden, starting with reds and pinks at the entryway and leading to blues, purples, and whites on the other side. Garden visitors enjoyed the whimsical theme and all the fun “stuff” to find in the garden. One visitor described it as a “non-stop, visually eye-catching array of whimsical features that transport you to a place where worries are carried away on the backs of fairies, gnomes, and porcelain frogs!”

Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner: Noelridge Park Gardens, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

AAS Landscape Design Challenge Winners Noelridge Park Gardens

The Shoe-Bee-Dew! A Whimsical Garden Walk at Noelridge Park was inspired by a desire to include the public in every step along the way. The park invited the public to donate used shoes, which were then planted with AAS winners and other plants chosen based on their look or name. A meandering path was created through the garden, allowing visitors to get close enough to see the special surprises tucked here and there, read plant tags, and identify which local celebrity’s shoes were on display. 

Category III: over 100,000 visitors per year

First Place Winner:

Toledo Botanical Garden Metropark, Toledo, Ohio

AAS Landscape Design Challenge WinnersToledo Botanical Garden Metropark

Toledo Botanical Garden created a whimsical garden called Whimsi-land, where visitors enter through a copper archway featuring a moon and stars display. A walk along the path lined with brightly colored flowers leads to a pool where one might catch a glimpse of the topiary water dragon, Finnegan. Visitors loved Finnegan and the garden’s other unique features.

Inspired by the Juneau, Alaska, botanical garden, Toledo Botanical Garden staff flipped three downed trees upside down to create planters. The root flares of the trees were filled with flowering annuals, including AAS winners.