January 2016 Issue #73  

25th Anniversary Edition

Deja Vu New Year Rear View 
Recently, a young relative (OK, young relative to me) mused, "It seems like a new year happens about every three months." Ain't it the truth? The seasons, as Joni Mitchell sang, go 'round and 'round, dwindling in duration with each rotation. I mean, didn't we just wish you a Happy New Year about, oh, three months ago?


The big news: The seasons have gone 'round and 'round for 25 full cycles since our founders, David & Wyona Babikow and family, broke Panhandle ground for Emerald Coast Growers' first greenhouses. Yep, it's official. We've been growing, in several senses of the word, since 1991. We've notched our first quarter century.

What's changed in the meantime? Oh... just almost everything.

Our new growing space wasn't the only headliner of MCMI. That was the year that..
-- That newfangled "internet" thing opened to unrestricted commercial use. By year's end a million computers (but no smart phones, movies or refrigerators) were online.
-- Heuchera 'Palace Purple' was declared the second Perennial Plant of the Year.
-- The automobile airbag was invented.
-- Thelma and Louise went for the ultimate gal-pal road trip.
-- The USSR monolith crumbled.
-- Minnesota beat Atlanta in the World Series.
-- Washington beat Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVI. Halftime show: New Kids on the Block.
-- Genetic tinkering yielded the first blue rose.
-- Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton announced he'd run for President in '92.
-- Boys kept chasing girls to get a kiss. Grandmas sat in chairs and reminisced.

Meanwhile, in Pensacola, a quiet revolution in how grasses are grown in America was stirring to life - a true grassroots uprising. Not to blow our own horn or thump our collective corporate chest, but it says here we've helped make ornamental grasses the expected, respected garden element they've come to be. No need to thank us, we're just doing our job.
And the beat goes on.
PS: Come wish us a happy anniversary at GSHE, the Gulf State Hort Expo, in Mobile, AL Jan. 20-21-22 at booth #628-630!

ECG North is on the road the first week of this month in Baltimore for MANTS (1/06-1/08), our second-most-important trade show. By the time you read this we'll be grippin' & grinnin' at Booth# 710-712. C'mon by and say Hi.

Just a few days thereafter, JF will present "Grasses in the 21st Century: Back To The Roots" at P.L.A.N.T. (Jan. 10) in Columbus, OH.

2016 is a leap year, a concept dating back over 2,000 years. Decreed by Julius Caesar, it survived the transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Other cultures use similar tactics. The Chinese calendar adds a whole leap month every three years. The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months, one of which is just five days long - six in a leap year. The Aztecs marked time via the "sun stone," an elaborately-carved 25-ton disc that may have also served as (gulp!) an altar for human sacrifice. Somebody's year ended abruptly.


Coreopsis: Mt. Cuba Center has released results of a three-year trial of 94 selections of one of our (and the world's) favorite genera. Some croaked before the trial was over, thanks in part to two consecutive long tough wet winters. But a goodly number of our favorites scored well. The 1992 Perennial Plant of the Year, 'Moonbeam', posted a healthy 3.7 out of 5. Another veteran, C. verticillata 'Zagreb', rated a sterling 4.4. The Big Bang series did breeder Darrell Probst proud: 'Full Moon' pulled a 3.5, 'Redshift' 3.7, and 'Star Cluster' 3.4. Itsaul Plants' Cruizin' series variety 'Route 66' rolled to a 3.7.

Coreopsis x 'Moonbeam'
Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'
Coreopsis Big Bang™ 'Full Moon'
Coreopsis x Route 66
Coreopsis x 'Route 66'

Capricorn: Sometimes the goat plays the hero. This may be your moment, so seize it just in case. And if, some dark night, the year ahead seems littered with more peril than promise, think how many millions would love to shoulder your first-world woes. 

The Best Grasses That Aren't
You read that right: Some of our best "grasses" are actually not members of the "true" grass family, Poaceae. But if it looks like a grass, grows like a grass and sells like a grass, we're happy to grant it honorary status. Our picks:

Acorus gramineus: Hardy all the way down to Zone 4, "sweet flag" comes in three flavors: 'Oborozuki', 'Pusillus Minimus Aureus' (say that five times fast) and 'Variegatus'. These are cute little guys, ranging in height from just 3 or 4 to 12 inches.

Acorus gramineus Oborozuki
Acorus gramineus 'Oborozuki'

Acorus gramineus Minimus Aureus
Acorus 'Pusillus Minimus Aureus'

 Carex: Our sedge selection encompasses 33 varieties -- too many for This Space. Our faves include the tough natives C. appalachica and C. pensylvanica. We're also very fond of stalwart C. oshimensis 'Evergold' and all its Irish-bred descendants in the Evercolor® series. And don't overlook the ColorGrass® collection.

 Juncus: What a rush! Four versatile selections: J. effusus 'Big Twister' lives up to its name with kinky corkscrew foliage twirling two feet high. J. filiformis 'Spiralis' has a similar look in a smaller form. Blue Arrows can take it dry or wet, and Javelin (tender) rounds out the roster with rigid green grassy foliage. 

Carex oshimensis EverColor_ Eversheen
Carex oshimensis EverColor™ 'Eversheen'

Juncus effusus Big Twister
Juncus effusus 'Big Twister'

Juncus inflexus _Fantastic Foliage Blue Arrows__
  Juncus inflexus 'Blue Arrows'

It can't be said too often: We wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year. A huge Thank You! for helping our seasons go 'round and 'round. And a special tip of the hat and champagne flute to those of you who've been buying and selling our liners since the beginning. Without you, we'd have no horn to blow.

We've celebrated our silver anniversary together. What say we go for the gold?
John Friel  
Marketing Manager    
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