Rearing its lovely head again, right on schedule: April, that luscious 30-day span that brings us Easter, Earth Day, Arbor Day and Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Zounds! But the month’s favorite observance is, of course, April Fool’s Day. We honored it with a special edition of Coastal Current, and we hope you enjoyed it.
For obvious reasons, that first April newsletter was a steaming heap of (mostly) alternative facts. This one’s the real thing. No fooling.

FLORIDA

The ether between FL and PA is humming with emails, conference calls and Skype sessions as we plan our 2017-2018 catalog. O, the wonders that await you when that fresh-faced tome lands in your mailbox! It’s still in the early phases of construction, but you can expect new goodies from some of our (and your) favorite breeders. There’s a spate of new Coreopsis in Darrell Probst’s L’il Bang, Permathread and Satin & Lace series. From the wizards at Whetman Pinks comes Dianthus Pinball Wizard. Natives maven Brent Horvath presents a stunning Rudbeckia, ‘American Gold Rush’, whose habit and flower power must be seen to be believed.
New grasses? Of course! Chicagoland Grows gives us – no kidding -- Panicum ‘Bad Hair Day’. We’ll have several new infertile Pennisetum varieties and a graceful Sorghastrum, ‘Thin Man’. See ‘Tray Bon’ below for one more newcomer.

PENNSYLVANIA

Talk about mixed emotions: After nearly 15 years as ECG North head grower, Andy Babikow is retiring. We’re (a) sad to lose him, (b) happy to see a good guy doin’ it his way, (c) grateful for all the great crops he’s nurtured, and (d) just a tad envious that he’s hanging up his watering wand at an age you’d probably call a very early retirement. But as he put it, “You never know if you have enough time left.”
What will he do instead? He’s going for a walk in the woods. As you read this, he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail. Again. If we had to place a wager, we’d bet (actually we hope) that at some point his retirement will become more like a leave of absence, and he’ll find himself back in a greenhouse. Growing runs in the Babikow genes.
As if to prove that point: Taking over the reins here in PA is Andy’s brother Jonathan. With over 30 years of industry experience and extensive knowledge of perennials, he’s an immediate asset for our team.
To Andy: Happy trails. You’ll be missed. Please visit often.
To Jon: A warm welcome aboard. We look forward to working with you.

Andy Babikow on the trail with courageous canine companion Eli
Jonathan Babikow (left) replaces his brother Andy as our head Pennsylvania grower   

4/02/1513: Ponce De Leon claims Florida for Spain.

4/20/1768: The world’s first horticultural association, the Ancient Society of York Florists, is formed in England.

4/18/1775: Paul Revere and William Dawes ride out of Boston into poetry and history.

4/03/1860: The first Pony Express rider gallops west from St. Joseph, MO.

4/04/1887: Susanna Salter, Argonia, KS, is the first woman elected Mayor of a US city.

4/15/1912: The Titanic strikes an iceberg off Newfoundland.

4/04/1981: The launch of Columbia marks the dawn of the space shuttle era.

Haks to the Max!
Festuca isn’t the only prodigal returning to the availability fold after an absence. Three varieties of uber-popular Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa, are also back in black on the rack. Choose from ‘All Gold’, ‘Aureola’ (limited!) or solid-green H. macra. And don’t dawdle: Haks on availability are like gas stations in the desert. Don’t ask, just fill up because you don’t know when you’ll see another. In the case of Hakonechloa, it’ll be December. Tank up now, you’ll thank us later.
Aries: You’re feeling the urge to plant something wildly inappropriate for your zone. Give in. It’ll feel great, it’ll look great, and who knows? Plants can’t read.

Taurus: Your detractors will suddenly realize that you’re suave yet sincere, urbane yet earnest, hip yet humble, and that they’re the ones who just don’t get it. And then, like Charlie Brown, you will flap your arms and fly to the moon.

Fescue to the Rescue!

Welcome back, Beyond Blue! Good to see you again, ‘Cool as Ice’! April marks the return of our full complement of Festuca varieties that are chronically in short supply through winter. We’re the official world headquarters for your favorite small, glaucous grasses. So in addition to the above relative newcomers, we’re well-stocked with market leaders ‘Boulder Blue’ and ‘Elijah Blue’. And stay tuned: Later this year we’ll be introducing the very different look of Eiler’ Beauty.

R.I.P. Marc Laviana
We were saddened to learn recently of the passing of Marc Laviana, co-owner of the famous Sunny Border Nursery in Connecticut. Beginning in his teens, Marc worked at Sunny Border for over 48 years. Our condolences to his family and many friends in the industry.

Thank you for reading. Seriously. We really, really appreciate your spending a little time with us every month, but never more so than in spring. We’re growers too. We’re well aware that this time of year can seem like a Herculean task – an endless series of mad dashes from brush fire to brush fire.
Here’s to spring. Here’s to profit. Here’s to asbestos feet. Now if you’ll excuse us, we smell smoke.

John Friel
Marketing Manager
john.friel@ecgrowers.com

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