Coastal Current #104 August 2018
August 2018
The Dog Days are upon us. The ancients (i.e., those who lived pre-freon) believed that the dog star, Canis Majoris , added its heat to the sun to make this the hottest, most unbearable period of the year. It’s been blamed for a host of ills, including lethargy in men, wantonness in women, and madness in dogs. A pretty heavy burden to pin on a pinprick of light in the summer sky, isn’t it?

Our new trial house, where tomorrow’s stars earn their stripes, is up and running at the Milton grass farm. In our production space, we’re producing the early batches of some new additions. Two standouts:
Panicum x ‘Bad Hair Day’ from Dr. Jim Ault of Chicagoland Grows, the guy who gave the world the first non-purple coneflowers . This is a big robust grass, six feet tall and hardy to Zone 3, with long, fat, mophead inflorescences over wide, upright/cascading blades with a gold cast.
Amsonia x Butterscotch improves on A. hubrichtii (a PPA Perennial of the Year winner!) with more vigor, better disease resistance (no tip dieback), red stems, and a richer, deeper fall color. From Elite Growers.
July started out dry here. We were inches below normal rainfall levels, and local lawns looked (and sounded) like shredded wheat. My tulip tree was whistling to the neighbor’s dogs. But as August approached, a plague of T-storms quickly caught us up — and kept going. That’s the trouble with the law of averages as applied to precipitation: Anomalies get leveled off in dramatic, sometimes dangerous fashion.
The answers to, and winners of, July’s word scramble challenge.
Answers: Plant Attributes
1. Asian side streets: Disease resistant
2. Renew frog life: Free flowering
3. Truant sisters: Rust resistant
4. Falling scene: Self cleaning
5. Trap bee in gloom: Repeat blooming
The Winner: Jen Mackan, Mill Creek, aced it.
Runner up: Melissa Gonzalez, Park Seed, had just one wrong. Better luck next time!
It’s entomology time! This month’s theme: pests. Unscramble the phrases below to spell five undesirable insects. No spray mask required, just have at it and see how many you can swat. As always, address your answers to

1. Why I left
2. Deep garnish
3. Daily owl lodge
4. Dry pants often tell
5. Jane peels a beet
August is a great time to plant warm season grasses. They’re hot to trot now, when the days are long and toasty, the air and soil are warm and the nights are soft. Pot or plant ‘em now, and they’ll respond with rapid growth.
The classic, elegant landscape grass for sunny borders. With our 30 varieties, there’s a maiden grass for any situation. Some blades are solid green, others mixed with red. Some are white-striped, others feature glittering gold bands. Statures range from tall and regal to compact and demure. Large or small, solid or pied, all have impressive plumes and striking fall color.
‘Gracillimus’ is long-established as the standard to measure new introductions against. It’s so popular, we grow it in three sizes to suit your production needs.
‘Gold Bar’ packs a fortune in gold bars on a short frame, for smaller plantings or patio containers.
Switchgrass has a proud, tough-as-barbed-wire heritage. But modern breeding has elevated this native genus to new heights of garden-worthy beauty. Once established, it’s a sturdy, graceful element, adaptable to numerous uses. Mix and match our 12 varieties for a bewitching foliar blend of subtle blues and rich reds.
‘Hot Rod’ : Leave the competition in the dust! This ECG introduction revs up into the red zone faster than any other red-bladed American grass.
‘Northwind’ : One of just three grasses named Perennial Plant of the Year, this Midwestern selection is as low-maintenance as can be.
The fountain grass group embraces both annual and perennial species. Our 18 hardy offerings make beautiful, self-sufficient plantings for sunny borders. The more compact forms also make great containers, mixed or solo.
‘Hameln’ , a top-selling staple, is the go-to fountain grass for mass plantings.
Cayenne™ , Etouffee™ , Hush Puppy™ , Jambalaya™ and Praline™ comprise the UGA Infertile Grass Collection, bred for more blooms over a longer flowering period.
‘Little Bunny’ and ‘Little Honey’ are just as cute as their names – perfect for smaller plantings and/or containers.
Now is the time to turn our starters into your finished product. Heat up sales with warm-season grasses in fast-finishing liners from Emerald Coast Growers – the easy choice!
CULTIVATE in the rear-view mirror
Cultivate18 in Columbus was its usual fine self. Attendance hasn’t been announced, but numerous vendors agreed it felt a little light. Still, we were busy. A slow Cultivate day still beats most shows. Nobody does it better, but for one glaring exception: Housing.
The dreaded hotel-booking obstacle course was less harrowing this year, but considering 2017’s crashed-computer disaster, that’s setting the bar pretty low. Here’s hoping American Hort’s technicians are working on the problem.
Our Aquilegia trays are anxious to get off our benches and into your pots, where they belong. This early-flowering genus likes a head start on building a solid root mass so it doesn’t have to do everything next spring. Choose from the Winky , Songbird or Origami series. And you don’t have to be a native specialist to love the sweet red-and-white flowers of A. canadensis
The brightest star in the summer sky isn’t just one star; it’s actually a binary system. It was, or they were, worshipped in ancient Egypt as a goddess whose appearance presaged the flooding of the Nile. Various cultures have called the dog star Canis Majoris, Sirius, Sothis, Sopdet, and Rin Tin Tin. By any name, it’s really not to blame for heating up the dog days. Our local star can handle that little chore without a helping paw from 51 trillion miles away.
John Friel
John Friel
Marketing Manager