Issue #110 February 2019
February 2019
Ah, February! Is there a lovelier month? Oh, heck yes. Just about all of them. It’s no coincidence that this is the shortest month; even the ancients who created the calendar wanted it over with quickly. OK, there’s Valentine’s Day, which is good for florists, confectioners and Hallmark. Otherwise, brevity is February’s chief virtue.
We’ve sailed into winter’s doldrums, and I don’t just mean our PA satellite location. Down in FL, our HQ folks are also rowing through some of the year’s most uncomfortable, depressing, expensive weeks. Just like you.  
A Florida winter is obviously less onerous than PA’s. But as I type the Panhandle is just a handful of degrees warmer, with a couple of recent freezing nights. Luckily the days rebound into the 60s, making this a good time of year to grow grasses : A plethora of Panicum including ‘Shenandoah’ and our very own ‘Hot Rod’ , myriad Miscanthus and a slathering of Cymbopogon . We’re also babysitting boatloads of perennials : copious Coreopsis , newly-minted Monarda in the Bee-You® series , Echinacea of all kinds, and much much more for your planting pleasure.
We’re hoping for a mild February -- not as mild as 2018’s, when consecutive 80-degree days tricked dormant gardens into waking up too soon. But milder than the January just past, please! Some mornings, our smartphones said it was 7 degrees, our dashboards said 8, and our bodies said, Set the alarm for April and go back to bed.
In the greenhouse, it can be whatever season we like: Eternal spring, or mild winter. We’ve got both. See Tray Bon! below for a peek behind the scenes. 
Puzzlemeistress Anna Graham’s word processor does to vocabulary what a food processor does to vegetables. To keep you savvy solvers off the streets and out of trouble, she’s pureed six new scrambles so diabolical your synapses will never be the same. But then, they never really were, right?
February’s perplexing sextet includes two Latin plant names, two common names and two vile plant pests. Duck logo figuring out which is what.
1. Insane Chisel Bits
2. Urgent Adobe
3. Ugly Beams
4. I Trust A Cute Atomic Hipster
5. Literal Scrap
6. French Riots
(Psst: One common name and one Latin name might refer to the same plant, but don’t tell Anna I gave you a hint! She’d scramble my brains!) 
Say Veronica , and most of us picture flower spikes rising a foot or two above the border. But some keep a lower profile. These varieties charm as groundcovers and edging, or spilling over stone walls. Here’s the lowdown.
peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’ : Mats of small round leaves disappear in spring under a slathering of tiny blue flowers. Foliage turns dark green in summer, bronze in fall. The name is from Eurasian Georgia, not Dixie. Just 4 – 6” tall, hardy in Zones 4 – 8.
‘Tidal Pool’ : Mid-green, oak-like lobed leaves form vigorously-spreading prostrate mats, covered by deep violet-blue flowers in April – May. Tolerates a range of soil types. A mere 2 – 3” tall, this creeper is hardy in Zones 4-8.
‘Whitewater’ : Go with the flow! Glistening ½” white flowers over lustrous, dark green leaves. Blooms from late April well into June, peaking in mid-May. Standing 4 – 6” tall, it’s hardy in zones 4 – 7.
Now’s your chance to steal a march on Mother Nature and be poised to hit the ground running when winter fades. It’s the perfect time to plant a different kind of speedwell .
Born this month, you’re either a Pisces or an Aquarius . Aquarians are famously shy and quiet, like, say, John Belushi. Intellectual, too, like Kim Jong-Il. Pisceans are artistic and musical, like those star-crossed soulmates Frederic Chopin and Justin Bieber.
Born on the cusp, you’re a wet redundant fish. Pisces is a water sign, as it should be, but Aquarius is, oddly, an air sign. Sounds fishy, doesn’t it? 
Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold: Either way, you’ll like it in the pot.
In our warm greenhouses, freshly-stuck trays of Achillea are putting down roots. Soft, shiny Senecio Angel Wings are ready to fly into your life. Just whistle.
In our cooler spaces, vernalized Aquilegia , Gaillardia and Campanula are chillin’ out awaiting cozier climes. Since they were already well-rooted back in fall, they’re primed for a fast finish on your benches.
Dormancy can be unattractive, but in its own way it’s often pretty. Aquilegias aren’t much to look at in winter, and Asclepias vanishes completely, but Gaillardia and Hakonechloa take on striking hues. Like a swan’s ugly duckling phase, like February, sometimes the road to gorgeous runs through ugly.
There’s light at the end of this nasty tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train. It’s Spring, glorious Spring, and it’ll be here... well, eventually. Already the days are lengthening, albeit at a glacial pace and in minuscule increments. But later this month the snow geese and tundra swans will descend on PA in clamorous multitudes to blot out the sun at Middle Creek, where they’ll rest and feed for weeks. Sort of a turnpike plaza stop on their long migratory trek back to the Arctic Circle.
So don’t just sit there reading newsletters, go plant something! For inspiration, here’s our Availability . Your customers are migrating back into the business cycle, and they’ll need your stuff for their customers. Don’t break the food chain. 
John Friel
Marketing Manager