September 2014   Issue #57  





Here's to September, a month of quirky holidays. Some folks celebrate International Square Dancing Month, while others sharpen their cutlasses for (Yar!) Talk Like a Pirate Day. Me, I keep going back & forth about National Waffle Week. What is September to you? Does it come as a welcome respite, with business slowing, temperatures moderating and kids back in school? Or does it open the door to an onslaught of fall clearance sale madness and spring production pressure? Should we contain our curiosity until the 30th, Ask A Stupid Question Day?






Florida: The vinyl frontier! 

Another new half-acre block of Atlas greenhouses is online at our Milton farm. In its shelter, crews are performing the yearly miracle of multiplying by dividing, producing Miscanthus, Panicum, Pennisetum and more. Don't try it in math class, it'll just make your head hurt. Meanwhile, back at HQ in Pensacola, more new space is taking shape to accommodate October production of multitudinous flocks of Phlox.


Pennsylvania: Fall Really IS For Planting!

The autumn shipping season is upon us. We're boxing, caging and racking your liners at a pace not seen since spring. Keep those POs coming, we can handle it! Out on the growing benches, we're rich in several high-demand grasses. 
Carex pensylvanica
Carex pensylvanica

(ours is the bluest you can get!) and Imperata 'Red Baron' for those still allowed to grow that much-maligned little gem.
Festuca 'Elijah Blue'
Festuca 'Elijah Blue'
Carex testacea
Carex testacea





I'm recently returned from the FarWest Show in Portland, OR, where the vibe seemed more upbeat than it's felt in years. Beaver State nurseries were walloped by the economic downturn and the housing stall, so it was exciting to sense so much optimism in the air. Hats off to the Oregon Association of Nurseries for the educational seminars, too, with a solid slate of speakers and topics.


Before FarWest came a very different western experience: a hike-in, raft-out, 10-day sojourn in Grand Canyon. The heat (110F+) was withering, as expected, and the eight-mile hike down Bright Angel Trail was even harder than I'd feared. It took a couple of days and a lot of soakings by the chilly Colorado River to rejuvenate my mojo. The river was running high and the rapids were the biggest I've ever seen. Our 16-foot oar rafts were dwarfed by the 37-foot, 15-passenger, motorized behemoths the commercial haulers run, but Lava Falls makes any craft look too small. I tip my helmet to the hardy (i.e., mad) souls who run such stuff in kayaks and canoes.

Grand Canyon



Don your dancing shoes and dust off your old vinyl for September 25, National 
One-Hit Wonder Day, when we fondly 
(or otherwise) recall Spirit in the Sky, Venus, Chevy Van, Kung Fu Fighting and the like. I propose we rename this holiday The Day The Lights Went Out in Georgia.

Our industry has its own one-hit wonders
-- plants you bought once and will never, ever, trust again. We've all had a fling with some lovely that all too soon bared its nasty, thuggish, weedy side, or with a "perennial" that proved not so, haven't we? One day I'll compile a list and call it Seasons in the Sun. One last chorus: You should pick up the phone today and order some Rosmarinus officinalis 'Arp'  and 'Barbecue' , because Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes.
Rosemarinus 'Arp'
Rosemarinus o. 'Arp'







Did that get your attention? It should. According to market researchers wearing lab coats and wielding clipboards, it's got all the elements necessary to keep you reading. Here's the formula: Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise = The Ultimate Headline. Don't just sit there, Click! Read! Buy!

Is it just me, or do you too feel manipulated by such calculated, algorithm-driven machinations? You can almost hear the little doink as your buttons are pushed, almost feel the jab as the hook sinks in. Must... resist... urge to follow link!! 


But that headline DID contain a promise, so here's our trio. Never let your mouth write a check your body can't cash, right? 


You may remember it as 'Electric Avenue' from the Itsaul Cruizin'™ series. By any name, this sweet bright yellow is a cheerer-upper.

Speaking of sweet: the Taffy series from Terra Nova Nurseries features fruit-hued trumpets in tall stacks that won't stick in your teeth. 

The one that launched the Heuchera revolution still knocks it out of the park in trials and sales. All newer, foliage-focused varieties: I am your father!
Coreopsis Mayo Clinic Flower of Hope™
Coreopsis Mayo Clinic Flower of Hope™
Penstemon 'Boysenberry Taffy'
Penstemon 'Boysenberry Taffy'
Heuchera 'Palace Purple'
Heuchera 'Palace Purple'



Tray Bon!

At FarWest, speaker Irvin Etienne taught me that this lovely, photogenic plant is much tougher than I thought: It survives most winters at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where Irvin serves as head of hort, smack dab in USDA Zone 5. Come spring, I'm gonna plant me some.

Salvia 'Black and Blue'
Salvia g. 'Black and Blue'


It would be pretty boneheaded to giggle at September's goofy feasts & foolery while glossing over its most somber observance, the 11th. My first Grand Canyon trip in 2001 began just days after the twin towers fell. No one knew what might come next; the smoke from NYC followed us 2,500 miles, casting a pall over the Canyon despite the desert sun. For 18 days with no news, we wondered what world we'd reenter. Whatever September means to you, may such dark days remain in our collective past. See you next month.


Emerald Coast Growers






John Friel  

Marketing Manager 

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