September 2012 Issue #33
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September 2012 tastes less bittersweet than your usual autumn on-ramp, as it slams the door on the Summer from Hades. Business has been gratifyingly good for many, but could have been much better if the Midwest hadn't sizzled like a deep fryer and if the Northwest had actually had a summer. Or a spring. Here's to fall!
DOWN ON THE FARMS
ECG's mailing crew is so efficient, we haven't deployed our singing, dancing, kowtowing courier to hand-deliver a single copy of our new catalog. He's glad. Kowtowing is hard on one's knees, not to mention one's dignity. In our new exclusively (so far) ECG varieties, a few Stokesia 'Divinity' are available now; Muhlenbergia 'Fast Forward' comes online in October; and Panicum 'Hot Rod', darling of our summer trade shows, is sold out until late April. Order soon, there aren't many and they won't last.
We lucked out: After a scary early taste of drought and blowtorch temps, the rains returned. Lancaster County is green and lush. But the early flare-up blasted our Hakonechloa crop, so Availability is nil until January. Meanwhile, we're going great guns on Festuca, Helictotrichon, Imperata and Nassella. Get set for spring 2013 with a late summer/ fall planting of Aquilegia. Eight kinds of columbines await your command.
RANDOM USELESS FACT(S) DEPARTMENT: September
* Emma Nutt Day honors the first woman telephone operator, who connected her first call 9/1/1878. Every reader under 30 just googled "telephone operator."
* 09/03 is Labor Day, when most of us do no such thing.
* 09/14 is National Cream-Filled Donut Day. Cop one for me while you're up.
* Arrrrr you ready for the 19th, Talk Like A Pirate Day, matey?
* Levity hiatus: A moment of silence, please, for 9/11.............. Amen.
September has so many "special" days, one scarcely knows when to quit commemorating. Let's stop on the dot at the 24th, Punctuation Day. Period.
The genus Echinacea has enjoyed a major makeover, with eye-popping new forms and hues available as tissue-cultured propagules. We've got all the hot ones. But some price points just don't accommodate costly TC'd types. Solution: Seed-propagated liners from ECG let you offer a terrific range of colors and sizes. Right now, you can pot up three different whites, PPA Plant of the Year 'Magnus', and pinks/purples ranging from the straight species E. purpurea to early, compact Prairie Splendor™. October brings heavy-blooming PowWow Wild Berry. In March, try award-winning 'Cheyenne Spirit', an exciting blend of seven colors. Buck the trend at less than a buck per starter.
WE HAVE A WINNER
Puzzlemeistress Anna Graham has picked, seemingly at random, the winner of our July stumper. Ball Seed's Debbie Talip cracked the code on 6 jumbled genera, to wit:
I Smell a Chore: Hemerocallis. Revive Mumps: Sempervivum. Iron Cave: Veronica.
Helium Banger: Muhlenbergia. Music Trap: Tripsacum. Quiet Muse: Equisetum.
Congrats, Debby! You win a chic Perennial Plant Association visor, worn ceremonially just once by the PPA President, who promises he shampooed first.
"Glory be to God for dappled things," wrote Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins in Pied Beauty. Had he seen our rainbow of bespeckled beauties - bicolor flowers, grass blades striped and cross-checked, blooms that burst from bud in one hue and mature to another - the Reverend might have added a verse or two.
Our favorite variegated grasses include Calamagrostis 'Eldorado', Carex 'Ice Ballet', Chasmanthium 'River Mist', and too many Miscanthus to list; 'Cabaret', 'Gold Bar' and 'Cosmopolitan' stand out on current Availability. In pied perennials, we're partial to Coreopsis 'Redshift', Delosperma Fire Spinner, Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', Hosta 'Fire Island', Polemonium 'Touch of Class' and many more.
TIPTOEING THROUGH THE TIARELLA
Next month: a report from Holland and the biennial Congress of the International Stauden Union, European sibling of the Perennial Plant Association. Wish I could've stayed for the decennial garden extravaganza Floriade, but duty called in Portland, OR. Thank you to those who swung by the FarWest Show (Aug. 23-25) and yelled "HI!" extra loud to rouse the time zone zombie in the ECG booth.