Coastal Current  

October 2011   Issue #22

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If your average avid gardener knew how many pretty plants get stomped into the ground or tossed into the dumpster at a breeding nursery, she would weep. Having recently spent a long day at Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon, I can sympathize. This is laser-guided, fast-forward evolution, a vivid depiction of breeder & überplantsman Karl Foerster's maxim: "The good is the enemy of the great!" And the results are exactly that: great. But oh, those lovely, not-quite-right discards!


Post-visit, I'm more pumped than ever about the ECG/TN connection and all the stringently-selected irons they've got in the fire. Stay tuned as we make their world-class genetics more available than ever before.



In Florida, they somehow keep a straight face when describing a "cold front" -i.e., their nighttime lows approximate PA's daytime highs. The brave souls keep warm by propagating plenty of Pennisetum: hardy ('Hameln', 'Little Bunny' etc.) & tender ('Rubrum', 'Fireworks', 'Skyrocket', 'Cherry Sparkler' et al). Shipping is gratifyingly voluminous, and Customer Service is busy booking your needs for spring. Seriously, folks, the cooler temps are welcome to both humans and plants. Autumn is sweet indeed after a Panhandle summer.


Pennisetum Celebration series 

Pennsylvania: Hurricane Lee brought destruction, even death to PA, but luckily we escaped damage. A little water in the aisles, a little trouble getting around; a covered bridge buckled and remains closed. But it's business as usual as we stick and sow your future liners -- Hakonechloa, Carex, Campanula, Delphinium, Polemonium.

Delphinium Summer Blues 

An unexpected regional storm casualty: Pumpkins. Our wet spring delayed planting, and just when they were getting ready, the floods wrecked, rotted and washed away crops up and down the seaboard. Retailers have declared a Condition Orange.


Random Useless Fact Department: Irish immigrants brought the Jack-O'-Lantern to America, but the original Jack was no pumpkin. Back home, my ancestors used hollowed-out turnips, gourds and, yes, potatoes, lit from within to ward off evil spirits. Hmmm... maybe this fact isn't so useless, if you use your turnip.



My Terra Nova tour followed the FarWest Show, a personal favorite. Since then we've pressed the flesh at two broker events (W.H. Milikowski & Griffin Supply). That's it for booth time until MANTS (Baltimore, Jan. 11-13), GHSE (Mobile, Jan. 19-20) and New England Grows (Boston, Feb. 1-3). See you then & there!



Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter, Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm (as in Panicum 'Northwind') and others form a stellar slate of speakers at Scott Arboretum Friday, October 14. For more:  



Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' was named Best New Perennial/Grass at FarWest. This striking Plant Select® intro gives up to 8 months of garden interest. It's drought-tolerant, it's hardy in Zones 4-11, and we have just a few dozen trays left. Hint, hint.


Hakonechloa macra Everyone knows H.m. 'Aureola', thanks to its reign as the PPA's 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year. We have excellent availability now. But wait -- there's more! 'All Gold' is a cascade of glowing ribbons. Chartreuse & white 'Naomi' and bright green 'Nicholas' segue to rich red as summer snuggles into fall. Coming this winter in nifty 50s. Our latest, buzziest variety is 'Fubuki' ("Snowstorm"), with striking green & white stripes. Book ASAP for February in 38s, these tend not to linger on our benches.  


Helianthus xmultiflorus 'Sunshine Daydream' This robust North Creek Nurseries intro is a bold overachiever in the garden, loaded with big double flowers on clean, dark green foliage. Quit daydreaming, Sunshine! Beam it aboard!


What's Hot?



LibrioScorpio: Congratulations: You share your sign with Indira Gandhi, John Adams and Marie Curie. Oh... also Leon Trotsky, Hermann Goering und Josef Goebbels. Never mind.

Librio: Born on the Libra/Scorpio cusp with a tail full of venom and an even-keeled attitude, you don't play favorites: You just want to sting everybody.

Aquarius: Let it rain, let it pour, let it rain a whole lot more! Umbrellas are for sissies. Nothing dilutes your zeal for life.



Dance With Who Brung Ya

We love new stuff as much as the next grower - heck, we added 139 items to our latest catalog -- but don't get so moonstruck by the debutantes that you overlook booking your Must Haves. Here are some fave stalwarts and their seductive sell-along upgrades. 


MUST HAVE                         MUST TRY, & HERE'S WHY

Achillea 'Moonshine' etc.    Desert Eve TM series - 5 shades, early & compact

Agastache 'Tutti Frutti' etc. Summer Series by Terra Nova: Bold blooms, great habit

Dianthus Firewitch               Devon Cottage TM & Scent First TM series are scent-sational.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks'        'Cherry Sparkler' joins its Celebration mates with flair & flare.

Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'         R. fulgida var. fulgida extends sales with weeks-longer bloom.

Sedum Autumn Joy               Autumn Charm TM & 'Autumn Fire' update the classic.

Sedum 'Purple Emperor'       'Chocolate Drop' and 'Raspberry Truffle' -- blows against the empire

                                              in the contest for best dark stonecrop.





A chilling late-September drizzle drips as I type. Another summer fades and, like a schoolkid, I wasn't finished playing in it. But prime top-down-driving time has just begun, mild days and crisp nights burnish gardens to a golden glow, and a new tradition is born: Bobbing for pumpkins in Chesapeake Bay. We'll bring the cider.  



John Friel 


John Friel  

Marketing Manager  

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