2008 Moss Awards: William's Web

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William's Web 2008 Awards

What a wild year. Dizzying highs and terrifying lows! Stocks tumble and lead to economic woes. But military progress is cause for applause. Warming trends continue to worry ecologists and agronomists. But historic elections spark worldwide celebrations.

Through it all, gardeners continue to garden and nature continues to astound. It was a good year for fruits and vegetables, and a great year for ornamentals, like: columbines, geraniums, sunflowers, and lilacs. But, as always, pests, weeds, and invasives were rampant.

To all the urban and small space gardeners: this list is heavily slanted towards you. The winners would be spectacular anywhere, but they are perfect for containers and other tight spaces.

I'm a gardener, but I'm also an environmental scientist, amateur carpenter, and big kid, so you'll find a great variety of categories on this list. There are alot of supporting pages and photos. Take your time browsing through them; and send in your comments about 2008 and the William's Web Winners.

Bookmark this page!! Its alot to take in in one sitting.

Click on thumb or category for more info.





pot 8 mini rose ring of fire

Best Overall Show

Ring of Fire Mini Rose (Rosa 'Ring of Fire')

This is an incredibly beautiful and tough plant. The multi-petaled 2" blossoms are a mix of oranges, reds, and yellows. Floriferous, colorful, vigorous, adaptable, and miniature 'Ring of Fire' qualifies as a must-have for gardeners worldwide.

ephiphyllum oxypetalum

Most Dramatic Flower

Grandmother Ruth's Night Blooming Cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

What a surprise! Both my great-grandmothers grew this plant beautifully in Spartanburg. I inherited a cutting, and despite harsh conditions (Chicago balcony), it bloomed twice. This incredibly intricate and fragrant flower takes two weeks to develop but only last for one evening.

mr. walton

Best Farmer

Mr. Walton (This innovative, healthy, spry 90 year old genius grows most of the food that he and his wife eat.

Urban farms and sustainable agriculture have become important components of food security. Mr. Walton is ahead of this movement by 4 decades! His half acre sustainable, fruit, vegetable, and flower garden on Chicago's west side should be declared a national treasure.

picking hedelfingens

Tastiest U-Pick Fruit

Hedelfingen Cherries

Michigan, like many states, has loads of u-pick farms. The climate on the other side of Lake Michigan is perfect for many crops. We typically go in autumn for apples and grapes, but a visit to Stovers farm last June led me to the tastiest cherry in the world!

sweet tater harvest 08

Best Container Crop

Grandmother Ruth's Sweet Potato

Grandmother Ruth (actually my paternal great-grandmother) gave me a sweet potato slip in '98. "Just put it in some dirt." I have grown sweet taters and kept the slips every year since. In 2008 they were grown in containers on the rooftop with bountiful and tasty results.

insulating pipe cover

Most Promising Energy Source


Biofuels, clean coal, natural gas, wind, solar, wave, and geothermal are in the mix. But a visit to Kristie Webber Landscaping and the Center for Green Technology on Chicago's west side show the possibilities and immediate payoffs of conservation.

james park garden beds

Best Garden Project

James Park Raised Beds

Lots of carpentry projects were tackled in 2008. Privacy fences, rail fences, floating decks, cold frames, and standard raised beds. The most complicated (and fun) one was my ~64 sq ft. "L" shaped raised bed at James Park community gardens.

ryobi kit

Best Tool

Ryobi 18V Cordless Kit

Norma Vally, star of Chix Can Fix and author of several home project books, recommended this cordless tool kit to me. Best investment of the year. Helped complete many outdoor projects (see above) without the hassle of cords or generators.

wii fit

Best Video Game

Wii Fit (Nintendo)

Wii Fit has revolutionized video games. Suitable for kids age 8 to 80, Wii Fit gets you in tune with your health. My Ma never played video games. We got her Wii Fit and she has played daily for six months. The results: over 50 lbs lost, plus she is more limber and agile. And it has inspired me to get back to my fighting weight of 208.

traitor don cheadle

Best Movie

Traitor (Don Cheadle)

A great espionage thriller with a fantastic star. Don Cheadle and his supporting cast are great. This is a suspenseful action flick without all the corny sayings, tacked-on car chases, and ridiculously, unrealistic stunts (e.g. driving trucks into helicopters).

southern patio crocus pot

Best Container

Southern Patio

Melissa Holcomb is my contact at Southern Patio. I love their fiberglast containers. They look like ceramic, but they are lightweight, which makes them perfect for patios, balconies, and roofdecks.

pot2 mid spring

Best Container Planting

Tulip/Geranium Barrel (Pot 2)

This oak wine barrel planting always takes second to the serviceberry/lily barrel, but not in 2008. The tulips, geraniums, columbines, orange bell pepper, mushrooms, and tarragon kept this pot ornamental and interesting all season.

camassia scilloides w scadoxus

Best Cutflower

Wild Hyacinth and Woodland Phlox

Camassia scilloides looks great in the garden and even better in vase surrounded by Phlox divaricata with Scadoxus multiflorus in the background. Nerine/mini-rose/witch hazel combo deserves mentioning because they were blooming in Dec.

galilee paperwhite Galilee Paperwhite (Narcissus tazetta 'Galilee') Stiff competition from Tripartite, Thalia, Golden Echo, and After All, but the mass of Galilee blooming at Estee's house from January through March sealed the deal. Incredibly long and brilliant display. You could smell their perfume from the street!
helleborus multifidus Early Hellebore (Helleborus multifidus) Not the earliest (H. multifidus istriacus) or the prettiest (H. niger cultivar), but close on both counts and the most floriferous. This deciduous hellebore has scores of small, green blossoms once it matures.
kwanzan cherry flowers Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan') Cherry blossoms mean spring. The Yoshino cherries on Pine St. in Spartanburg are some of the oldest and largest around. But the Kwanzan cherries in Manhattan won me over. Kearney's red buckeye and lead plant were also in the running.
tulip turkestanica Turkistan Tulip (Tulipa Turkestanica ) I like the smaller species tulips over the larger hybrids. The hybrids are bold and brash, but they lack the fragrance, number of blossoms, intricacies, and constitution of the species. T. turkestanica beat out T. tarda and T. humilis this year.
allium purple sensation Purple Sensation Onion (Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation') By far alliums give you the most bang for your buck among spring bulbs. Chionodoxa, Dutchman Breeches, and Ipheion were great, but Allium Purple Sensation bloomed for weeks, plus they added structure and height.
la royal sunset

LA Royal Sunset (Lilium 'Royal Sunset')

The introductions of lilies over the last several years is bewildering. Breeders are hybridizing all the divisions to form completely new categories. LA (Longiflorum x Asiatic) Royal Sunset won over LO (Longiflorum x Oriental) Triumphiator and tiger lily Yellow Star.
ismene x festalis Peruvian Daffodil (Ismene x festalis ) The South American Amaryllids are a neglected and misunderstood bunch. Most are tough and durable with spectacular flowers. Many are suited for container culture throughout America. Ismene (commonly misnamed Hymenocallis) has a procession of bold blooms in summer.
zephyranthes flavissima Yellow Rain Lily (Zephyranthes flavissima) I only grow four of the seventy or so fascinating species of rain lilies (I'll gladly accept any divisions or seeds.) They spread quickly and bloom profusely. Z. candida and Z. citrina performed well but were not as floriferous as Z. flavissima.
nasturtium flower profile Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) One of my favorites. I planted several varieties at my community garden to thwart the rabbits and feed the bees. In the rich soil and bright sunshine some leaves were over 4" across! They began to bloom in August and provided cutflowers til hard frost.
aster milka Milka Aster (Aster novi-belgii 'Milka') This is completely subjective, however I just love asters. They light up my favorite season, autumn, and bring a last bit of color to woods, prairies, gardens, roadsides, and alleys. The periwinkle purple, double blossoms of Milka aster are stunning,
reblooming iris Re-blooming Iris (Iris cultivars) No doubt taxonomists will begin to split the over 300 species of irises soon. Few other genera include rhizomes, bulbs, and tuberous roots; or have year round bloom times; or range from desert to marshland. The mild autumn allowed rebloomers to put on a show.
gaillardia frenzy Frenzy Blanket Flower (Gaillardia 'Frenzy') From the Commotion Series comes Gaillardia Frenzy. My friends at Skagit Gardens sent me this plant in spring. It arrived as a plug already with buds, and it never stopped. Through heat, drought, and frost it just kept blooming.
witch hazel fall color Fall Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Truly one of my favorite plants. The last and the first plants to flower, witch hazels perfume the autumn woods and the wintry garden. A planting near Lake and Hinman in Evanston has the most brilliant fall foliage before the flowers open. An incredible sight!

cerinthe atropurpurea

Worst Display

Pride-of-Gibraltar (Cerinthe atropurpurea)

Only a couple of plants sprouted from the whole pack, which should have been a sign. Interesting glaucous foliage, but gangly growth habit with tiny, wishy-washy, mauvish flowers. A waste of space. Cut down in August.


Worst Weed

Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria)

I've battled this weed from Atlanta to Ottawa. Nearly impossible to eradicate once established. Not a problem for the hydrangeas, regal lilies, and Solomon's seal that share the bed; but it overwhelms the wildflowers and competes with the sedum Autumn Joy.


Worst Plant Pest

Thrips (Heliothrips or Thrips)

I did not realize how lucky I was to never have thrips. Like goutweed, they are unstoppable. Aphids, scale, and spider mites are child's play by comparison. They spread like wildfire from pot to pot wreaking havoc on my collection of crinums and hippeastrums.

wemoss.org 2009, Last Updated February 9, 2008