Coastal Current 
February 2011   Volume 2  Issue 2


February brings longer days, bitter nights, and that Hallmark moment known as Valentine's Day, beloved of jewelers, florists, chocoholics, dentists and offshore rose growers. Be still, my glittery cardboard heart. At least it sells some green goods.


Notes From the Road

This truncated month hosts our last winter trade show, New England Grows, and a curious three days that was. Day One of a good show bustles: Vendors barely keep up handing out catalogs and swapping cards with real live customers. The last day often tanks: Booth denizens joke about holding archery tournaments in the empty aisles.


In Boston, those days traded personalities. Day One: A morgue. Abysmal weather piled more snow atop the several feet already down. Folks stayed home in droves to push the drifts around, saving greenhouses or earning greenbacks. Day Two: Normal. Good, not great. Day Three: Here they came, keeping us busy almost to the closing bell and redeeming the show, ROI-wise.


Wilt Thou Be My Valentine?

It's a little unfair to blame today's greeting card industry for V-day hype. Valentine's Day's roots reach way back to the Roman fertility festival Lupercalia. February 14th has been its official address since around 498 AD. Mass-produced cards appeared in the early 1800s and now sell over a billion each year.


This year, perhaps a lover's garden is in the cards for you. A swath of Eragrostis (love grass) embraces throbbing red Dianthus 'Passion', with a complementary kiss of Fragaria 'Lipstick'. Send your Pennisetum 'Little Honey' a Hosta 'Fragrant Bouquet'. Heuchera 'Venus' awaits, coy but confident, in the shade. Don't let Gaura 'Passionate Blush' and 'Passionate Rainbow' go unrequited. Lovesick? We'll write you a prescription for a dose of Digitalis (source of the eponymous heart medication) 'Goldcrest' or 'Foxy'.


Sadly, despite their apparent compatibility, we recommend keeping Chelone 'Hot Lips' and Salvia 'Hot Lips' in separate beds. One's a perennial native, the other a tender alien. Nip that little romance in the bud, it's bound to end badly.



Pennsylvania: Our Ag Dept. agent gave us the good news just last week: Thanks to new screening, designed to thwart nasty bugs with designs on your/our plants, ECG's Lancaster location is now certified to ship just about anything we grow to just about anywhere you grow. Yes, certain items still can't go to certain places, but absent those constraints, you can almost ignore that "PA" notation in our Availability list. It's been rendered all but irrelevant. California, here we come!

No Bugs!


Florida: We're investing in infrastructure to serve you better above and below the Mason-Dixon line. At the risk of sounding like a broken record*, new greenhouse space is this close to ready. Shipping is gathering momentum. Forget what you know about southern FL, in the Panhandle the nights are still nippy.


*Do your digitally-enhanced kids even understand the phrase, 'like a broken record?'


New Milton Greenhouse



Aquarius: Rise above the corny, contrived commerciality and fall in love anyway. It's a fine way to keep warm through these starry starry February nights.

Scorpio: Quit cutting in front of the other signs. Go to the back of the line and stand by for a message in October. While you're waiting, pot up those Coreopsis seedlings in House 3 before they stretch.


Random Useless Facts Dept.

The word "landscaper" can be rearranged to spell "lap dancers."


Ill Winds & Silver Linings

The hardest part about that Boston trade show was getting there. Our usual relaxed, scenic 7-hour cruise became an 11-hour white-knuckle whiteout slog through a winter wonderland. That's 'wonder' as in "I wonder if we'll end up on our side in the ditch, like that car, or spun out in the median, like that one."


Vulnerable as our industry is to Nature's whims, it's human nature to whine about the weather. But nasty conditions work to our advantage. Snow cover helps perennials survive. Impacted cabin fever + cold-killed plantings = more spring sales.


In short, ugly winters make beautiful gardens even more precious. Be ready with the antidote to these ill winds, and we'll be every gardener's Valentine.




John Valentinus Friel 

John Friel 

Marketing Manager



















What's Red Hot?

What's Hot?

Ornamental Corn is poppin'!

Zea mays japonica 'Field of Dreams' is the prettiest corn you'll never see in the flat farmlands of Kansas. This is corn with a twist -- and a bump and a grind and a wiggle.


Zea mays japonica 'Field of Dreams'

Zea mays japonica 'Field of Dreams'


Wide, wild, wavy ribbons of green and white, with rosy-pink accents, make a sensational splash in mixed containers or alone in 4" to 6" pots. We'd lean toward larger rather than smaller, as this plant can reach 4' or more in a season. And yes, it produces attractive ears with dark kernels.


Like all corn, 'Field of Dreams' is a heavy feeder and a sun worshipper. Breeder Floranova recommends 200 - 300ppm  and light levels "as high as possible" to assure vigorous, sturdy growth. If those high fertility levels result in overly exuberant growth, Floranova says Bonzi and Florel can be used as needed.


Field of Dreams is a fast grower, sold as a sown-to-order item in trays of 38.


Price: $1.59/plant, $60.42/tray. To order, call Customer Service at


Detailed cultural info




Let us now praise versatile grasses. Our four varieties of Calamagrostis xacutiflora (Feather reed grass) come in solid green, green & white, and green & gold. At home from Zones 4/5 all the way down to Zone 10, these hybrids won't self-sow. 


Calamagrostis Karl Foerster

Calamagrostis xa. 'Karl Foerster' 


Panicum virgatum is another multi-talented species, and a North American native to boot. Of our 9 varieties, 6 are available now. You don't have to suffer to sell these blues.


Panicum virgatum Heavy Metal

Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'


We could go on; we're also rich in Cortaderia, Pennisetum, Phalaris and Hakonechloa. Share the wealth. Plant, grow, sell, repeat.


Muhlenbergia White Cloud