July 2014   Issue #55  

Pennisetum Rubrum



New Catalog! Trade Shows! Hot Hot Hot!


Lazy, moist and hazy, summer slathers itself upon the land like a sludgy blob of cotton candy dropped by a cranky kid on a sizzling sidewalk. Stroll through the greenhouse, and the air is so saturated it feels like wading. Baby, it's hot inside, too.




Down on the Farms


Pamela Straub, resident combo container maven, creates the audacious, bodacious combinations that grace our booth at Cultivate 14, the erstwhile OFA Short Course.   This year, she mixed & matched Hosta 'Saint Elmo's Fire', Veronica Royal Candles, Heuchera 'Cajun Fire', Delosperma Fire Spinner®, and Pennisetum 'Fireworks'. And it was smokin'!

But it's hard to keep stuff irrigated in arid convention center air. If that big planter dried out, we might have spontaneous combustion. A scoop of Carex 'Ice Cream' and a big splash of Veronica 'Whitewater' cooled the pot down before it reached critical mass, but we're still leery. You may not see that one in Ohio.
Heuchera 'Cajun Fire'
Heuchera 'Cajun Fire'
Carex 'Ice Cream'
Carex 'Ice Cream'


In an eerily similar incident up here on the Pennsylvania plains, sparks from a tray of Salvia Heatwave 'Blaze' caught a draft of Panicum 'Northwind' and ignited a Carex Prairie Fire. Too embarrassed to call in a Heuchera 'Fire Alarm', we donned our loincloths and performed an Andropogon 'Rain Dance'. It wasn't pretty. Luckily, no video cameras were nearby or we'd be viral by now.
Salvia Heatwave 'Blaze'



Requiem for Royalty


Kurt Bluemel, the King of Ornamental Grasses, passed away in June after a short illness. He was 81. 

Wholesale grower, designer, artist, gravedigger, visionary and widely-traveled plant explorer, Kurt was one of those personalities who seemed about 10% larger than life - on a slow day. His collaborations with the late Wolfgang Oehme and later with Disney, plus his many plant introductions, changed the face of the American landscape. Internships at his nurseries advanced the careers of numerous prominent horticulturists. To say that Kurt Bluemel influenced the perennial world is a little like saying the moon has something to do with the tides. Anyone who grows hardy plants, especially ornamental grasses, is in his debt. RIP, König Kurt.

A PPA Who's Who L-R: Executive Director Dr. Steven Still; Past Presidents Kurt Bluemel, Dave Schultz and John Friel; Janet Draper, Smithsonian Horticulturist, PPA Regional Director, & former Bluemel employee.




What's hot? Our new catalog, of course! Recently returned to Pennsylvania from playing catalog midwife in Florida, I'm happy to report that you're in for a treat. Among our newcomers are selections from A-list breeders like Ball/Darwin, Conard Pyle, Dr. Wayne Hanna, Chris Hansen, Brent Horvath, Darrell Probst and of course Terra Nova Nursery. With peerless new plant selections, stunning photography, deathless prose and a layout that'll lay you out, ECG 2014-2015 is one for the ages. I smell Pulitzer. Come see us at Cultivate 14, or PPA (see below) and get yours while it's still warm.


Pennisetum a. 'Red Head'
Pennisetum a. 'Red Head'



PPA Symposium


Not long after that Columbus show comes another Ohio bash. No need to remember a new name: It's The Perennial Plant Association's National Symposium, convening in Cincinnati July 28 - August 1. The Queen City boasts lovely gardens, public and private, excellent garden centers and much more. Cincinnati sits along the mighty Ohio River, so at the end of a day of great seminars, we'll take a Mark Twain-worthy riverboat cruise. A short walk from the hotel, the Reds take on the Diamondbacks at the Great American Ball Park. Hot dogs & horticulture - natural partners. Join us! Here's how: http://perennialplant.org/index.php/events/national-symposium.


Great American Ballpark with Steamboat Smokestacks




Quote of the Month


"In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." - Christopher Morley 


Aren't we lucky that nerve is there? Stimulating that nerve is our passion, our purpose, our livelihood. And aren't we even luckier that gardeners have a lot of (secret) nerve?


Christopher Morley



Random Useless Facts Department


RUF #1: (Ouch! Slap! Gotcha!) It would take 1.2 million mosquitoes sucking simultaneously to drain all the blood from the average human being. That's 379 mosquitoes per square inch of skin. Weren't you just itching to know that?


RUF #2: Only the female mosquito bites. She needs your blood protein to form eggs. People have long wondered why mosquitoes were created; the genus Anopheles is Greek for "good for nothing." But the common house mosquito, Culex pipiens, knows exactly why Homo sapiens exists: We were put here to make more mosquitoes.




Tray Bon!


Geranium xcantabrigiense 'Biokovo'
Now there's another reason to grow this easy-care, low-growing beauty with sweet white/pink flowers and glowing red/orange fall foliage: It's the Perennial Plant Association's Perennial Plant of the Year for 2015! Stock up for increased demand with our fat 50s. When PPA speaks, gardeners buy.


Geranium 'Biokovo'




Between the non-stop, get-it-while-you-can pressure of spring and the fattening up/battening down routines of autumn comes the sweet, sweaty respite of summer. We hope you'll spend part of yours with us, in Columbus or Cincinnati. And (knock wood) as I type, early summer in PA has been lovely. The world is lush, green and flower-filled. Pamela's not telling what she's really cooking up in those big combo pots, but you can bet it'll be something hot and drop-dead gorgeous. Swing by booth #1905 in Columbus and see for yourself. Bring your oven mitts.




John Friel  

Marketing Manager    


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