Coastal Current   

November 2013   Issue #47


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It's marrying season here in Amish country. On misty, moisty, chilly Tuesday mornings, black buggies rumble in picturesque queues converging on the long lane leading to the farm where a ceremony is imminent, the farm where I buy my eggs. On the berms, waving to the passing teams, are shawl-clutching matrons from nearer farms, walking to the same wedding with their starched husbands and collar-tugging teens in tow.




Fall falls gently on the Florida Panhandle. October and early November feature mild sunny days and cool calm nights, the kind of weather that lures sensible people to move or vacation here. And those user-friendly conditions helped several projects along: Our new seed-handling greenhouse, trial garden house, and soil-handling building are complete, ready to rock 'n roll in time for winter.


It's beginning to look a lot like autumn, even indoors. A cool house houses Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', green & gold blades donning pastel red shades. Carex testacea's tips are burnished to an orange Kool-Aid glow. Asclepias incarnata cells shed their leaves to become peatsicles, naked stems anchored in root balls.

Asclepias incarnata peatsicles

Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum', 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year, doffs all top growth. But wacky Aquilegia, Dianthus and Gaillardia soldier on, still flowering. Fall? What's that?

Gaillardia 'Arizona Red Shades'






The world lost two unorthodox artists recently. Landscape Architect James van Sweden, of Oehme, van Sweden and Associates, died September 20. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Lou Reed took his last walk on the wild side October 27.
Each of these very different men charted a new course in his genre. Oehme, van Sweden's exuberant borders and sweeping landscapes redefined American gardening. Their public and private designs, many emulating grand masters' paintings, continue to inspire the next generation of landscapers.
Reed's proto-punk band The Velvet Underground was no mainstream mega-hit generator, and his voice made Dylan's sound angelic. Still, artists as diverse as David Bowie, U2 and Andy Warhol cited his stark, dark compositions as major influences.
I don't know if either man would appreciate a shared eulogy, but here they are. And there they go, but their impact on the way the world looks and sounds lives on. RIP.




Random Useless Facts Department

Bee(r) goggles
You think you've had a bad blind date? The European bee orchid, Ophrys apifera, mimics a female bee's shape and scent so convincingly, it's pollinated by male bees trying to mate with it. Hi, honey, what's your sign? Hey! What the...

Sorghastrum 'Indian Steel'

Sorghastrum nutans 'Indian Steel'

Our favorite "Indian grass" here at ECG, 'Indian Steel' has a lot going for it. It's tough, self-sufficient, drought-resistant (once established), erect and handsome. Its native heritage makes it politically correct even if its names are not.
Sorghastrum's talents transcend standard ornamental applications. It's a natural for naturalizing. Tenacious roots resist erosion on steep slopes. Cool blue-green blades turn charming yellow in fall. Feathery, foot-long flower panicles start tan/yellow in summer, taking on a bronze cast that holds interest well into winter.
Fight the urge to spoil it with kindness: Rich, moist soil will make it floppy. A stingy feed and water regimen will keep 'Indian Steel' tall and proud.


Sorghastrum 'Indian Steel'


Scorpio: Your sign embodies brilliance, wit and beauty in the form of Pablo Picasso, Johnny Carson and Julia Roberts. Your sense of adventure aligns you with sign-sibling Christopher Columbus. But Marie Antoinette also lurks in the family portrait, so not every Scorpio has a good head on her shoulders. Birthday cake, anyone?
Sagittarius: Born within bowshot of the Archer, you too have your highlights and lowlifes. Your stars align with true luminaries, but for every Winston Churchill, Joe DiMaggio and John Milton to look up to, you've got a Lucky Luciano and a Miley Cyrus to live down. Luckily, you also have James Thurber, author of the Quote of the Month: "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception."

James Thurber


Tray Bon!

Poltgonatum 'Variegatum'

Translation: The Perennial Plant Association pinned its prestigious Perennial Plant of the Year prize on  Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum'. Variegated Solomon's seal is a wonderful architectural element for shaded areas. Its arching stems bear heart-shaped green & white leaves and dainty dangling lily-scented white blooms.
Our beefy 21s are going dormant now, losing top growth. They're pretty much all roots & rhizomes, ready to pot for spring sales. Sink the rhizome about " below the surface. You can also plug them directly into the landscape in most areas; if you can work the soil, you can plant Polygonatum. Don't dawdle -- it's not getting any warmer out there, and we're down to our last 1,000 copies.
So put your flippers together and give Solomon's seal your seal of approval! Arf! Arf! Well done. Have a herring. 



Many times during the year, one of our locations is a better place to be than the other. Brutal FL summers make a PA July feel like a cool breeze. February blizzards turn a northerner's gaze longingly southwards. And so on. But autumn is a toss-up: Turning foliage gladdens the northern heart; sugar-white, tourist-free beaches soothe southern souls and soles. And spring is surprisingly similar in both places; it just comes earlier to the Panhandle.
Wherever November finds you, we wish you a graceful segue into winter, with much to be thankful for. See you next month.



John Friel  

Marketing Manager  

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