February 2016 Issue #74  

We've arrived at the unwashed armpit of the year. Bare trees, frozen ground, frozen faces, frozen time. One of the industry's trademark days, named for a saint -- or perhaps two saints, Valentine is more myth than history -- brightens the gloom at the ides. Otherwise, it's just four weeks of mostly nasty weather. And since it's a leap year we get a booby prize: A whole extra day of February! Smart people go South. 

Our Floridians agree about smart people going south. After all, they wised up 25 years ago. (Yes, it's our Silver Anniversary year! See Tray Bon! for more). They've pretty much forgotten that Groundhog Day isn't just a Bill Murray movie. To their credit, they rarely rub it in. They're too busy keeping an eye on greenhouses full of your spring & summer money-makers, and making more Pennisetum 'Rubrum' and the Celebration Series. Don't forget to book Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' and its variegated doppelganger, 'Overdam'

Calamagrostis xacutiflora Karl Foerster
Calamagrostis xacutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

Calamagrostis xacutiflora Overdam
Calamagrostis xacutiflora 'Overdam'

As I type, we're still surrounded by the remnants of this year's Storm of the Century. We seem to get one of those every winter or two. Fortunately we were shovel-ready and didn't have to close a single day. Special kudos to Michael for coming in on Sunday to clear our parking lot and loading dock.

On our benches, Carex and Festuca trays bide their time. The song of the seeder is heard on the range as new plugs of Heuchera 'Palace Purple', one of the world's great garden plants, are sown. They're destined to become our 72s, your gallons, and your customers' customers pride & joy. 

Heuchera micrantha Palace Purple
  Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple'

You think Schizachyrium scoparium is a tongue-twister? Dr. Jukka Ammondt, Finnish literature prof, sings Elvis songs in Latin - e.g., "It's Now Or Never" = "Nunc Hic Aut Numquam." It doesn't get much more random than that. I suppose you could also call it useless, but hey, Ne Saevias - i.e., Don't Be Cruel.

Schizachyrium scoparium Jazz
Schizachyrium scoparium 'Jazz'

This is our 25th year in business - our silver anniversary. And that milestone has us thinking about plants whose foliage echoes that lovely shade-brightening, border-unifying hue. Add a chunk of precious mettle to your offering with silver-studded liners of:

The Kudos series shines in landscape or container. This one's soft, clear, light-blue blooms are stacked in fat spikes over compact foliage mounds. 16-20" tall, and hardy in Zones 5 - 10.

Agastache Kudos_ Silver Blue
  Agastache 'Kudos Silver Blue'

A wonderful foil, 'Silver Brocade' magically weaves incompatible colors into incomparable borders. 12",  Zones 3-9
Artemisia stelleriana Silver Brocade
  Artemisia stelleriana 'Silver Brocade'

New spring growth emerges purple. Come summer, every leaf is a mottled mosaic of maroon and green, gleaming with silver highlights. 12-24",  Zones 4-9

Heuchera americana Marvelous Marble
  Heuchera americana 'Marvelous Marble'


Aquarius: Your age dawned in 1969 -- a long time ago. Please put your clothes back on, you're embarrassing the grandkids. Peace, man.

Pisces: So that scheming Libra says she lost her scales and wants some of yours? Don't take the bait. Just tell her "No weigh!" and flipper off.


Continuing the silver theme: Here in PA, we're watching a new crop of Brunnera 'Sea Heart' and 'Silver Heart' come to maturity for shipping in early March. This is a high-end, in-demand shade perennial, and these are flat-out gorgeous trays. You should get some before they disappear, numbers are limited. 

Brunnera Garden Candy_ Silver Heart
Brunnera 'Silver Heart'

Brunnera Garden Candy_ Sea Heart
Brunnera 'Sea Heart'


So February PA is a month made more for enduring than enjoying. But no matter how bad it gets here, we try not to whimper. You just know some reader in Buffalo is snickering, "You call that a blizzard? Ha! What a buncha wimps!"

To which I suppose the accurate, if not kind, retort is: If smart people go South in winter, who chooses to live in Buffalo?

John Friel
John Friel  
Marketing Manager    
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