October 18, 2010 Issue #9
It's true: Fall really is for planting, and not just bulbs and lawns. Some hort types call it, optimistically, "the second spring." But too many homeowners give up gardening too soon, apparently unaware that October is (a) a great opportunity to put stuff in the ground, and (b) an exquisite time to spend among the fruits of their earlier labors. Let's keep 'em out there with the best products, services and information we can muster.
DOWN ON THE FARMS
Florida: To serve you better and keep prices affordable, we're making significant infrastructure investments. Long-awaited new greenhouse space is FINALLY almost ready for plants, while older houses get retrofitted with new, high-efficiency heaters.
Some Yankees are thinking, "Heaters? They use heaters in Florida?" You bet. Our winters don't rival Michigan's or Maine's, but it gets nippy. We're in the Panhandle, not the Keys. A nasty snap last winter saw several consecutive nights in the teens. Result: A heating bill twice that of the previous year. As you read this, we're lining out cool-weather grasses in stock beds, as usual, and it's cooler than normal - a relief, but is it a harbinger of the coming winter? Hope not, but if so, we're readier than ever.
Pennsylvania: Oh, please, you're breaking our hearts. Listen, we got zero sympathy from FL during this past brutal summer, so don't come whining to us about a little Jack Frost nipping at your tender noses, OK? Just deal with it.
Here in PA we've got the blues, in a good way: We're cranking away producing our (and your) favorite Festuca varieties, 'Elijah Blue' and 'Boulder Blue'. Fresh batches of Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', last year's Perennial Plant of the Year, look so good we don't have the heart to tell them they can't win that crown again. Meanwhile, over in the Carex department, newcomers 'Ice Ballet' and 'Gold Strike' have exceeded expectations and vaulted onto current Availability weeks ahead of schedule. Grab some!
Pictured: (left to right) Carex 'Ice Ballet' and 'Gold Strike'
A SINCERE THANK YOU
to Griffin Greenhouse & Nursery Supplies and the customers who visited us at their Grower Expo in Lancaster last month. The booth was abuzz, the aisles bustling, and a good time was seemingly had by all. It's great to get some face time with folks who are usually at the far end of a phone, fax or email.
That was 2010's last show, so please come see us at MANTS (Baltimore, Jan. 5-7), Gulf States Hort Expo (Mobile, Jan. 20-21) and/or New England Grows (Boston, Feb. 2-4). We'll brighten your winter doldrums if you'll brighten ours.
YOUR FAX TAB IS ON THE HOUSE
We're like parents with kids away at college: We're so glad to hear from you, we'll cheerfully pay for the call. And besides our usual toll-free voice line, we now have a new toll-free fax number!
Program 866-822-5478 into your machine or computer, and start saving money on every purchase order you send our way.
THE GREAT PUMPKIN RISETH
October's end brings another Pagan/Christian hybrid. Like Christmas, it's evolved over centuries from seasonal party to religious event to an orgy of juvenile greed and a windfall for card companies, makers of cheesy decorations - and plant growers. Even better, this one includes an excuse to dress funny. How did that start?
My Celtic ancestors celebrated Samhain, summer's end, with fire and festivity. Later Anglo-Saxons observed All Hallow's Eve, now known as Halloween. By any name, some believe, it's a time when the boundary between this world and the next becomes porous, allowing spirits to roam among the living. Homeland Security is powerless against this menace. The cure: disguise yourself so they think you're one of them. Fortunately, spirits are pretty gullible. Throw some candy at 'em, and they'll leave you alone until next year.
Space, the vinyl frontier, is not infinite. When we're out of room, we have to stop dibbling. The sooner we know your needs, the better we can plan to fulfill them. Ergo, this is a great time to order Hakonechloa because what you see on upcoming availability is what we'll have. Once they're gone, they're gone.
Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'
Their companions, our great selection of Festuca, will be hot to trot from our houses to yours come February and March so you can get them established and sold before your world gets too warm and they slow down.
Several newcomers to our offering are ready for their debut on your benches, to wit:
Achillea 'Red Velvet': Did you save room for dessert?
Elsewhere in Pennsylvania Dutch country, Red Velvet is a cake that's been dyed a downright scary hue. But in our greenhouses, 'Red Velvet' is our favorite new yarrow. Trust us, the color is lot more tasteful as flowers than as food.
Achillea m. 'Red Velvet'
Coreopsis 'Galaxy' and 'Heaven's Gate': Similarly celestial of name, but very different of hue, form and origin. 'Galaxy' is a semi-double gold by breeder Darrell Probst, while 'Heaven's Gate' is a bicolor (pink/red) threadleaf sport isolated by Sunny Border.
Coreopsis Big Bang Galaxy
Coreopsis r. 'Heaven's Gate'
The North American native grass Nassella tenuissima looks like nothing else you can grow.
In pots or in the ground, it's a unique presence. At the PPA Symposium in Portland, Oregon, Nassella was everywhere we toured. In containers and in borders, its airy, silky, flowing form graced gardens public and private. Book yours now in our spacious 50 tray for shipment starting in late January. And don't let the common name "Mexican feather grass" fool you; it's hardy to Zone 6.