Emerald Coast Growers

July 2010     Issue 5
Coastal Current

O Beautiful July: 4 beloved traditions we all rely on

1. Picnics, parades, & patriotic music. It's a time to put your cynicism on hold, hold your hand over your heart, and pig out on the heart-stoppingest stuff you can fit on a grill.


2. Explosions, lots of 'em. If you have neighbors like mine, you've probably heard enough BOOM! to last you til New Year's Eve. And if you have a dog, you probably suspect your friendly local carpet cleaner is secretly distributing the pyrotechnics, if not actually igniting them.


2011 ECG Catalog3. Trade shows: We'll be in Columbus for the OFA Short Course and Portland for PPA, so come visit Booth #1905 & #32, respectively, for the most beloved, heart-warmingest tradition of all:


4. The new ECG catalog! Beware: the 2010-2011 edition contains fireworks - Pennisetum 'Fireworks'
-- and its sizzling new sibling, Skyrocket. Yes, the pyromaniacs at Itsaul Plants and Creek Hill Nursery have lit the fuse on another dazzling launch in their Celebration Series. So keep an eye on the sky and keep the dog on the porch, 'cuz if the new one takes off like 'Fireworks' did, business will be BOOMing. 

Pennisetum Fireworks & Skyrocket

 Pictured: Pennisetum xadvena 'Fireworks' & Pennisetum xadvena Skyrocket

Pensacola Beach white sandFlorida: The new growing space looks more like greenhouses all the time. Besides the new trial and propagation house, we've broken ground on a half-acre devoted to grass production, especially Pennisetum 'Rubrum', 'Fireworks' and Skyrocket. We hope to move plants in by September, thanks to Frameworks and the helpful folks at X.S. Smith.


Offsite: Yes, the oil has arrived at nearby beaches. No, we're not directly affected. But indirect effects are everywhere. Beaches and beach-oriented businesses that should be teeming with tourists are empty. The local economy is taking major hits.


Pennsylvania: A big Thank You! to our customers and broker partners from Gloeckner, McHutchison and Eason who visited one hot day in late June. Come again anytime!


The lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer rolled in early, vanished mysteriously, then returned to stay. PA Dutch country looks downright seasonal & normal, with just enough rain to keep green things green. The local sweet corn is getting rave reviews. And thanks to a cleanup by Al and his daughter Julie, our trial garden was sufficiently spiffy to supply pictures for the new catalog.



Have you ever come across something -a car, a flower, a co-worker, sushi -- that you didn't think you liked at first, but it grew on you and now it's a favorite? Carex testacea is like that. Its thin, wispy/wiry blades are an unusual hue, somewhere between citrus and carrot. A greenhouse bench of the stuff, or a broad swath in the garden, seems to have a fog of orange Kool-Aid hovering just above it.


Carex testacea

                 Pictured: Carex testacea

Best of all, that hard-to-describe hue tends to come and go. The slender leaves are olive-green in hot weather; the orange moves with the rhythms of time's tide, flowing in on cool night breezes, sailing out again on summery airs. It's an acquired taste, but one well worth acquiring.



Balloons, not bombs, are bursting in air -- balloon flowers, that is. Every July, the lavender-blue blooms magically turn Old Glory colors as they open. The phenomenon is short-lived; more people have seen Bigfoot. When it happens, you have to be right there or you miss it. This year, luckily, my camera and I were in the right place at the right time.

Platycodon Patriot

     Pictured: Platycodon Patriot (aka grandiflorus 'Sentimental Blue')
Such a display of unbridled chauvinism may seem odd since Platycodon is an Asian native. It just proves that we're still the great melting pot, a nation of immigrants.

But seriously, folks...

Platycodon 'Sentimental Blue' brings a cool, compact, large-flowered look to this old favorite of young gardeners everywhere. Go ahead, let 'em pop a few. The plant will make more. A few burst buds is a small price to pay to teach a kid that there's fun to be had in the garden.

John 'Uncle Sam' Friel 
    John Friel
    Marketing Manager