Issue #106 October 2018
The phrase “mixed blessings” is almost redundant; silver linings come with clouds, as do October skies. The World Series is coming (Yay!) but my phrustrating Phillies (Boo!) will watch it on TV again. My woodstove will be in play soon, but y’know, those first few fires are kinda fun. We all loathe raking leaves, but try our VP Al Mueller’s elegant two-birds-with-one-stone solution: Let the mower chop ‘em up and blow ‘em into your borders. Clean lawn, free mulch, happy perennials. Stow the mower, there’s a football game on. 
Time for our annual exhortation: Plant NOW for spring, especially (but not exclusively) for early sales of early bloomers. The obvious candidates are Phlox subulata and Aquilegia , traditional harbingers of spring, but they’re the tip of the iceberg.
Think Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ , an early-starting, long-blooming Perennial Plant of the Year; or Veronica ‘Tidal Pool’ and ‘Whitewater’ , both from the nifty Chicagoland Grows introduction program. They’re the guys who also gave us Panicum ‘Bad Hair Day’ , about which you can read more in What’s Hot! below. 
Thanks for coming!
We’ve had quite a string of distinguished visitors at our humble little acre+ here at our northern outpost. To name a few: In June, we welcomed Gary Vanburen, of Concept Plants. Concept represents some fine breeders in Europe, where they’re known as Plantipp. July drop-ins included Chris Fifo and Leland Toering of Darwin Perennials, and Paul Nihot, Nihot Tissue Culture, Holland, who came for a tour and stayed for darts. September brought Chris Beytes, globe-trotting Capo di tutti copy editors for Ball Publishing, for a quick tour and a few pics in our trial garden. Later that month we said Hi to Jesse, Lauren and Jordan of Eason Horticultural Resources. C’mon down!
Anna Graham has done it again. You know the drill: Unscramble the mixed-up Latin names (genus and specific epithet) below and tell us what plants they really represent. Hint: Three are perennials, two are grasses. Duck logo!

1. A toe bruises a scalp
2. Saints glide in tempo
3. Call a boiled raisin
4. Rough man stuns rats
5. Gum up mint caviar

We weren’t sold on the name from the get-go, but with the grass itself, it was love at first sight. Big and robust, but upright and well-behaved, ‘Bad Hair Day’ sports the longest inflorescence in the genus – hence the name. It’s from the breeding work of Dr. Jim Ault, the pioneer who launched the world’s first non-purple coneflowers.
Give it a shot. It’ll be the best ‘Bad Hair Day’ you’ve ever had.
Pennisetum alopecuroides Cayenne™ and Praline™
Our collection of infertile (i.e., functionally sterile) grasses expands again! These well-shaped, long-flowering varieties stay where they’re planted – no self-sowing worries. Cayenne™ and Praline™ join Etoufee™ , Hush Puppy™ and Jambalaya™ to give you a well-rounded selection of sizes and hues with the species’ trademark fat bottlebrush flowers. They’re ready to roll when you are in well-rooted 38-cell trays.
Blessings do come unmixed. This is that rare extended period when our Florida and Pennsylvania locations can revel in lovely, mild weather simultaneously. October’s real bane, it says here, is the inexplicable annual eruption of pumpkin-tainted everything, especially coffee and beer, crawling from its shallow grave like a zombie who thinks he’s cute. I’m not the only Cucurbita curmudgeon: I passed an in-and-out oil change shop whose tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) sign read, “It’s back! Pumpkin spice-flavored transmission fluid!”
But hey... if that’s your thing, if you’re at Starbucks sipping some gourd-infested nectar, so be it. Just don’t inflict that fragrant trick disguised as a treat on me, please, or on your innocent car. Thanks.
John Friel
Marketing Manager