Coastal Current   

February 2014   Issue #50


Stay Warm, Stay Ready Follow Us On Our Social Networks




The winter of 2013-14 has set records in much of the US, and they weren't the kind of records anyone in his right mind was gunning for. Baby, it's c-c-c-COLD outside! As I type, it hasn't warmed up all the way to freezing here in PA for two weeks.

But there's a hierarchy of suffering in tough winters. PA makes fun of FL's runny nose, while Canada scoffs at PA's frost-nipped lips: Winter? You call that winter? C'mon up north, ya wusses, we'll show ya winter, eh?





Pensacola got a lot of ice and even a dose of the dreaded four-letter S-word, the one folks flee south to avoid: S-n-o-w. Widespread panic ensued. Highways, schools and offices (including ours) closed, stores were emptied of bread, milk and batteries, and a newly-arrived Yankee complained that even before the storm hit, the local big box had sold out of snow shovels and ice scrapers! Reality check: They never had any.

More un-funny news: We've had to delay liner shipments. Our apologies if you were inconvenienced, but even tough perennials can perish if their roots freeze rock solid. Better safe than sorry, better late than dead. This too shall pass.


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On the windswept tundra of Lancaster County, birdwatchers are all agog at an irruption of snowy owls, arctic residents at home in this persistent, vexatious polar vortex. We've stopped chortling at the mental image of Southerners clawing at ice-crusted sidewalks and windshields with beach toys. We feel their pain. And to keep your selling season safe, when the bottom repeatedly fell out of the thermometer here, we held shipments, too. Be patient, stay warm, think spring. It's coming. Promise.








When spring finally arrives, many plants and plantings won't answer the bell. Their demise is your opportunity, if you're ready to replace them. We've got the liners you need: Check our Availability here!


 ECG Availability




Last month we challenged you to create new phrases by mixing up "Radiant Orchid," the Pantone Color of the Year. Your responses were ingenious, hilarious and a little creepy. But we asked for it.

After much meditation and fasting, our puzzlemeister Anna Graham has ruled. In harmony with the colorful theme, and in the spirit of Sochi, or so she says, Anna eschewed numeric categories and bestowed traditional Olympic hues. The winners:
Contest Winners
■ GOLD: A spiffy ECG jacket goes to Dr. Willie Faber, soils scientist extraordinaire, for "Iditarod ranch." I guess that's where "Mush!" meets "Giddyup!"
■ SILVER: A nifty ECG Tee and syrup of ipecac for Sally Roth's "Horrid antacid."
■ BRONZE: Adam Pierce at Hortech confessed, "I trod arachnid." Adam gets a chic ECG cap and salt to toss over his left shoulder. Bad luck to kill a spider, y'know.

Congratulations, winners! Contact to claim your prizes. To everyone else who contributed, Anna sends a heartfelt "Lola hunt yak!"*






Aquarius: Behold, the Ice Man cometh, and stayeth. Your liquid assets have been frozen by the bank - the snowbank. Fire up that sauna.
Pisces: Beware shallow water. Beware hot water. Beware tasty things dangling below holes in the ice ceiling. You're really up a creek in this weather, aren't you, Finny?




Emerald Coast Growers



Some gardeners & designers love to gamble. Bucking the odds, they plant Zone 7 perennials, like Lavandula stoechas or Salvia guaranitica in their Zone 5-6 gardens. In mild winters, they get away with it; but it's like drawing to an inside straight, and in this Year of the Big Chill, they may come up empty. If they say "Hit me again," fill their hands with 'Otto Quast' and 'Black and Blue'.

Stung by their losses, others will opt to plug tougher stuff into those vacancies. Hedge their bets with tried-and-true stalwarts: Astilbe, Sedum, Phlox and Echinacea always take the pot. Either way, we're ready to shuffle and deal. Ante up!



Lavandula 'Otto Quast' and Salvia 'Black and Blue'



Cold as it is, driven by temperature fluctuations (warm days, cold nights), sap is already rising in trees all around us at up to 150 feet per hour. Darn, now I want pancakes.





It's been half a year since we added a ton of new varieties to our roster. Here are a few that have grown most gratifyingly, in our greenhouses and our esteem.

Achillea Desert Eve™ series has impressed us for several years. Our newest variety, 'Red Improved', really lives up to its name with clean, vigorous growth and smoldering ruby flowerheads.
Nepeta 'Blue Lagoon' is low and spreading, perfect for edging or container spiller. Just the ticket for all your cool cat customers.
Echinacea Meteor™ series sends up showers of flowers on mid-size plants. Cushion-centered blooms in three colors: 'Meteor Pink', 'Meteor Red' and 'Meteor Yellow'.


Achillea Desert Eve

Echinacea Nepeta




North or South, our nervous systems and infrastructures are geared to our environments. It'd be foolish to build Klondike-ready greenhouses in Florida (even on Klondike Road, our office address), and foolhardy to build Florida-style structures in Alaska. Nurseries, like the native plants around them, are as hardy as they need to be.

North and South, fingers are crossed about all the things a harsh winter brings: Power failures, heater malfunctions, burst pipes, dead batteries. So far (knock wood) so good.

Whatever winter dishes out in your bailiwick, here's hoping your systems are a match for it. Stay warm, stay ready, and stock up for a big spring.


John Friel


*"Thank you all!"


 John Friel

John Friel  

Marketing Manager

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