June 2015 Issue #66  The Key Element: The Elements - by John Friel 


Saw what coming? This terrific retail season, that's what. Almost all the ingredients were in place: Stronger economy, more consumer confidence, tons of great product in the pipeline, more Gen X and Millennial homeowners, the growth in grow-your-own-edibles, hot new varieties, yada yada.


The dominos were primed to fall, but even when all other signs align, we still lack one key element: The elements. Gotta have nice weekends! This year, that trigger tripped.


Pennisetum 'Red Head'
Pennisetum 'Red Head'





Our Pace farm crew under head grower Daniel Neely is getting the hang of new machinery that lines out grasses for future division, and lays irrigation lines in one fell swoop. It's just one of many FL upgrades, like an LED germination chamber, renovated shipping house, consolidated soil handling facility and great new greenhouses. 


Production proceeds apace on the cool-climate crops we grow at our northern location, because even the relatively-mild Panhandle gets pretty toasty, too hot for Aquilegia, Festuca, Hakonechloa, Helleborus and the like. Crops on hand include two hot/cool new blue Festuca varieties not yet in our catalog. See Tray Bon! below.


Wanna keep the good times rolling as days warm and sales cool? Get in synch with June Is Perennial Gardening Month, a promotion by the Perennial Plant Association. You can learn more at perennialplant.org, and LOTS more by joining us at the PPA's yearly National Symposium in Baltimore next month. 

The flock is gathering...






The countdown is on! To catch the launch of our new catalog, rocket on over to the usual launchpad: 1905-07 at Cultivate '15. But this year, don't just come to Ohio, grab the ECG book and head home. Check out the handful of other interesting exhibitors and the smattering of educational opportunities at that modest little shindig. Hah! Hope you've booked a room, or you'll be commuting in from the 'burbs. But I digress: Here's a teaser sampler of sexy newcomers waiting between the new catalog's covers.






WoW! is an accurate acronym for the Wheels of WonderŽ Delosperma series! Easy-to-grow succulents are hot in these water-conscious times. Take a spin!


Phlox x 'Violet Pinwheels' from Chicagoland Grows: Ever wish for a spring Phlox that blooms for weeks, not days, and reblooms through summer? Here it is!


Rudbeckia 'Little Goldstar' looks great everywhere I see it, from Pennsylvania to Oregon to Holland. Sooooo happy we're picking it up!


xSedoro 'Blue Elf': An intergeneric Sedum hybrid with steely-blue foliage and a neat mounding habit, new to the SunSparklerŽ series from breeder Chris Hansen.






Andropogon: The evolution of this workhorse genus to more ornamental forms continues with 'Chief Bigfoot' and 'Dancing Wind' from Intrinsic Perennial Farm.


Pennisetum Noble ('Tift 14') Yet another regal presence to reign in bold, stately splendor over the sunny garden. Embrace the brilliant side of the dark side!






Gemini & Cancer: This lovely month is ironically shared by two signs that really should stay far apart and definitely never breed.

Gemini x Cancer = twice the crabbiness. A GemCan cusp-dweller makes Lucy van Pelt look like Mother Theresa. Stay back, Charlie Brown! She'll never let you kick that football!


festucatraybonTRAY BON!

You Can't Lose in this Battle of the Blues

It's on, baby. Two newbies, Festuca Beyond Blue and 'Cool as Ice', are gonna rumble like the Sharks and the Jets over the turf (nyuk!) currently held by our long-term faves 'Boulder Blue' and 'Elijah Blue'. Beyond Blue ('Casca 11') is the result of over 20 years of ever-bluer selections from 'Elijah Blue'. 'Cool as Ice' is a hybrid that promises to finish taller than the others. Try 'em all, and let the best grass win your customers' hearts.


For a, um, unique look at Beyond Blue, check out Peter van Rijssen's YouTube vid here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEp7WgaBQek


Festuca Beyond Blue
Festuca Beyond Blue

EPILOGUE: Weather...
So we got several nice weekends in a row, and retail kicked butt. No, the recipe isn't THAT simple, but sans good weather to inspire and enable gardeners and landscapers, the other ingredients - supply, variety, quality, etc. - simply aren't enough.

Whatever the reason(s) for this year's retail bonanza, we salute you, our customers, who seized the opportunity and broke records. And we're proud to have played our part: We're very mindful of our place as a key link in the chain of symbiotic relationships that starts with breeders and seed houses and ends in the landscape. Thank you for making us one of YOUR links.


SON OF EPILOGUE: ... or not

We like to keep it light here, but there's no glossing over some ugly facts about this mostly-great spring. The West is withering in historic drought. Tornadoes and epic flooding hammer Southern and Central states. While many rejoice, some struggle.

If you're making the most of a great season, remember those who are making the best of a bad one. These organizations are helping the hurting. All are highly rated by charitywatch.org for effectiveness in putting dollars to work.


 * American Red Cross: redcross.org

 * Mennonite Disaster Service: https://mds.mennonite.net/donate/

 * Samaritan's Purse: samaritanspurse.org


That's it for now. Let's all meet here again next month when I'm back from the Panhandle with more to report.

John Friel






John Friel  

Marketing Manager    


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