We've broken ground on a greenhouse expansion at our Pensacola HQ. It's just scraped earth now, but soon two new XS Smith houses will accommodate more propagation. Just as importantly, they'll give us more space to trial potential additions to our - and your - future product mix. Breeders are doing amazing things these days, and we're determined to keep our customers up to speed on the best new perennials, grasses and annuals.
Coastal Current 2: April 1? No fooling!
The first of April brings the second edition of our monthly newsletter for valued customers and broker partners. Our 2010 April Fool business-class license allows only 15% foolery per issue, so you can trust most of what you're about to read.
Other than ski lodge operators, few will miss the winter of 2009-'10. I'm more than ready to stop burning wood. On the upside, more perennials may have survived due to consistent snow cover, and landscapers had winter work plowing the copious quantities of white stuff that graced much of the MidAtlantic well into March.
DOWN ON THE FARMS: North Meets South
Spring is bustin' out all over up here in the MidAtlantic. The mergansers and snow geese have left PA, headed north to colder climes where the weather still suits their clothes. Bulbs are flashing, Forsythia is flowering, willows are willowy, and the forecast for April's first weekend is stunning - sunny & warm, with a strong probability of elevated retail sales. Let's hear it for cabin fever, Nature's perfect self-renewing marketing program.
Politically Correct Easter
Come April 4th, we'll feast on free-range, home-schooled, gently killed, recycled hybrid turkeys who always voted Green or Libertarian. Showing lots of pluck, these noble birds freely donated their feathers to make biodegradable flowerpots, reasoning they didn't need them because (a) climate change will soon make the extra insulation superfluous, and (b) heck, a turkey only lives about 21 weeks anyway.
More Food for Thought
To make it to Easter, your ECG North crew had to survive another mandatory foodfest: Fasnacht Day, the PA Dutch version of Mardi Gras. Each year, local ladies prepare for Lent by converting surplus lard to human fat. The transubstantiation is accomplished via fasnachts, i.e., dense wads of deep-fried dough. They're a lot like donuts, minus the flavor. Oof. But it's over, and the defibrillator is back in its drawer.
Politically Incorrect Grasses
Here's a topic we don't fool around about at any time of the year. Depending on your location, you may have cause to mistrust some Miscanthus. But it's not fair to tar every member of this valuable genus with the same fearful brush.
Our current availability
shows ample quantities of Miscanthus 'Autumn Light', 'Cabaret', 'Dixieland', 'Gold Bar', 'Gracillimus', 'Little Zebra', 'Morning Light', 'Puenktchen', 'Purpurascens', 'Rigoletto', 'Sarabande', 'Strictus', and 'Variegatus', among others.
What makes these varieties special is what they DON'T do: Escape and invade. Experts deem them low-risk thanks to late flowering and/or low percentage of viable seed.
For more on this sticky subject: blogspot
So you'd love to jazz up your Echinacea palette, but you hate high propagule and patent prices? Understandable. Since Dr. Jim Ault invented the non-purple purple coneflower in 2003, breeders have launched barrages of new varieties. We've got 'em, and they're terrific - but they're also expensive, touchy and
s l o w.
Solution: Try bright white 'Lucky Star' and early, compact, lavender-pink 'Prairie Splendor'. They're cool, new and vigorous, and because they're bred to come true from seed, they cost less than a fifth of some tissue-cultured cultivars. Get lucky! Get splendid!
Echinacea 'Prairie Splendor'
Our greenhouses get prettier by the hour. New production is coming on strong; dormant stuff yawns and rubs its eyes, emerging from its winter nap. Standing out above it all, the bright gold leaves and rich purple/blue blooms of Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' beckon from way across the bays.
Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate'
This American native's genus name honours two 17th century Brits, John Tradescant the elder and younger, royal horticulturists and collectors. The cultivar name is more recent but just as English: A gardener in Rusthall, Kent, southeast of London, named it for her blonde-haired daughter, Kate Stevens. Ain't she sweet?