This steamy heap of summer honors Caesar Augustus. Sometime ca. 8BC, this string of dog-day afternoons became the great man's lasting eponymous tribute. To Augie, it coincided with memorable triumphs like his conquest of Egypt - the original pyramid scheme. Those Romans really knew how to put the "vain" in Veni
DOWN ON THE FARMS
Thanks to all who visited our booth at the OFA Short Course. Three Sunshine State ECG types -- Pamela, Shannon and Josiah -- made the trek to Columbus to greet the masses, press the flesh, talk the talk and dole out our new catalog, of which we are proud as can be. It's a lovely thing with over 130 new intros. We think you'll like the pricing, too: We've held the line on many items. And even where we reluctantly made slight, necessary increases, you'll still find us extremely competitive.
Al Mueller and I motored out from the Keystone State to the Buckeye State for the OFA whirlwind of set-up, meetings, seminars, catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, gripping & grinning. As I type I'm recently returned from Vancouver BC where the Perennial Plant Association Symposium is winding down. I handed over the gavel to the new President, Dave Sanford, and I got to introduce the 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year, Panicum virgatum 'Northwind', a fave here at ECG.
If you chose not to join the PPA gang this year, boy, you missed a great one: Great gardens, great scenery, great lectures and a great group of your peers. And every time I'm out west, I want to bring a mountain home to dress up Pennsylvania. I just haven't found one that'll fit in the overhead bin.
Unfunny Department: In Requiem
The news shocked the show floor at OFA: Jeff Reed, co-owner of Quality Greenhouse and Perennial Farm in PA, died July 14 while competing in a triathlon.
In an industry known for kind people, Jeff stood out as an exceptionally good man and a truly nice guy. Our condolences to his family and employees. He leaves a sad void.
Strong For Pretty
My late Uncle Joe was a handyman who'd tackle anything: masonry, carpentry, welding, whatever. Aesthetics were not Joe's forte; function generally trumped form. Arms akimbo, eying up a new birdhouse or patched fender, he'd shrug and say, "It's not too strong for pretty, but it's pretty good for strong." And his creations always did the job.
Andropogon gerardii could be an Uncle Joe project. Functional? Sturdy? You bet. But pretty? Sorry, no. A tough, go-to grass for reclaiming damaged lands, A.g. was always weak for pretty... until now. Enter two newcomers from Intrinsic Perennial Farm.
'Rain Dance' PPAF is rich green, darker than the species, with red tips. Cool temperatures spread the red, painting every blade maroon. An ECG exclusive!
The deep green foliage of 'Red October' PPAF darkens to purple in late summer, then turns vivid scarlet for spectacular late-season color.
Get the grit that makes big bluestem ideal for tough sites, and the grace that's right at home in the garden. They're pretty good for strong, and surprisingly strong for pretty.
Random Useless Facts Department
The genus Panicum is said to be named for the Latin panus, bread. One species, P. miliaceum, a.k.a. white millet, is fed to birds and gluten-intolerant humans.
Our liners are widely known as the greatest thing since sliced bread, which debuted in 1928 and whose sale, oddly, was banned in New York during WWII. No one remembers what the greatest thing was before sliced bread.
Leo: No lyin' around for you, baby. You've got an appointment in a big noisy building in Rome. Those odd, armor-plated creatures with nets and spears? They're like lobsters: Tough outside, delicious inside.
Virgo: This is a dangerous time to make large decisions. Exercise only petite or medium-size options that don't involve chain saws or hefty loans. Better yet, just stay in bed until we give the all-clear.
Some of our (and your) favorite grasses are coming available in time for fall and/or spring production. One of the hottest: Carex pensylvanica, which like Andropogon fares better in the talent portion of the pageant than in the swimsuit competition. But it shines in the shade: Its knack for spreading to form low-light, low-maintenance ground cover makes it a 10 in the eyes of landscapers and native-plant aficionados. There's a goodly number ready now, and more coming on in January.
New Catalog: A quick quiz
Our Pulitzer Prize-winning 2013-2014 starter catalog is either in your hands, or en route. If the Ides of August come and your catalog hasn't, raise your hand. We'll get it to you.
So, what's that eerily beautiful, emerald-green, toothy, bristly thing on the cover? Is it:
a: The sand monster Sarlacc, from Star Wars III
b: Echinacea 'White Double Delight'
c: A sea anemone that lives off the Florida coast,
feeding on sunscreen
Factlessly Random Department
So this Roman soldier walks into a bar.
Bartender: "What'll it be?"
Roman: "I'll have a martinus."
Bartender: "You mean martini?"
Roman: "Just one for now, thanks."
The most durable relic of the age of the Caesars is not the Coliseum, the aqueducts or the salad; it's their language. Though allegedly dead, Latin lives on in law and in every scientific discipline, especially botanical nomenclature. Ave, Caesar!
(Quiz answer: b.)