Issue #122 Febr uary 2020
Here we stand on the cusp between our two most unpleasant months and, fingers crossed, knock wood, all’s well. Spring shipping season has sprung, the year’s first trade shows went wonderfully, and Valentine’s Day is about to bring a welcome cha-ching! to many in our midst.
We’re keeping those good thoughts tucked away to warm us when February, inevitably, shows us its nasty side. Think spring. It’s coming, we promise.

 It’s always a heavy lift to get new greenhouses up and running, but soooo worth it: There’s just nothing like a clean slate, a fresh start. Case in point: Two acres of new perennial propagation space at Milton, FL, a.k.a. the grass farm. This modern, streamlined block features high walls for great air movement, and it’s connected to a shipping headhouse for smooth, seamless flow in the process that turns our crops into your crops. After just a couple of months of production, we’re already seeing the benefits over the outdated growing space we replaced. There’s also a half acre of open-air, roof-only shelter where we can better hold and care for the especially sturdy stuff that used to sleep under the stars. Says Prez Paul Babikow, “I have honestly never seen better-looking perennial product at ECG.” 
Sweet! But... open-air, roof-only? Oh, if only we could get away with that up here!
The PA – to – FL weather ratio has settled into its norm, meaning our highs are just a bit lower than their lows. But! The first common merganser of the year has arrived on the Conestoga River. That’s as sure a sign of spring as Aries.
Let’s stroll the greenhouses and look for other signs. Going from cold holding house to warm growing/shipping house feels like going from PA to FL instantly. Cold-held Gaillardia and Aquilegia show off the ruddy dormant foliage that tells you they’ll explode in your pots. Bright-green Nassella and Isolepis , in the same cold house, seem not to have noticed winter at all. Next door in the tropics, newly-stuck Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ illuminates the middle bench like a chartreuse beacon. C’mon, spring!
In-house puzzlemeistress Anna Graham is puzzled by the declining response to her beloved word scrambles. You genius solvers used to zing back answers within the hour. Other replies would trickle in for days. Last month? Crickets. The ECG swag prize remains unclaimed. Anna can take a hint: No more scrambles. But we hear she’s working on something else, so stay tuned.
Use Crappy Syrup: Cyperus papyrus
Holy Ilene Icon: Chelone lyonii
Unite in Roman Steeple: Pennisetum orientale

Non Scenic Acid Sea: Senecio candicans
Glorious Crafty Land Pond: Platycodon grandiflorus
I Save Steak Oils: Stokesia laevis
WHAT’S HOT! Geranium ‘Rozanne’ 
Talking up ‘Rozanne’ is like introducing the celebrity who needs no introduction. I mean, c’mon, it’s the one true Geranium everybody knows by name, right? Just in case you’re not acquainted: Violet-blue flowers spring to fall. Vigorous mounds of attractive mottled green foliage. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 – 8.
The Perennial Plant Association declared ‘Rozanne’ their Perennial Plant of the year back in ’08. The RHS honoured it with a prestigious Award of Garden Merit and then, for good measure, declared it the Plant of the Millennium. Starting to sound familiar?
It’s one of those perennials that’s virtually guaranteed to be marked Sold Out on everybody’s Availability list shortly after it appears. So we’re happy to announce that we have (for now) a goodly supply. Get ‘em while they’re What’s Hot!: Get award-winning ‘Rozanne’ in our nifty 50s while they last, and keep that “sold out” sign handy.
2/2, Super Bowl Sunday / Groundhog Day : Luckily, Andy Reid didn’t see his shadow or we’d have had six more weeks of football.
2/5, Adlai Stevenson Day (Illinois only): You could pity this also-ran Presidential candidate for losing (twice!) to Dwight Eisenhower, but unlike Ike (keep reading) he at least gets his own Day.
2/14, Valentine’s Day : This romantic, horticultural and confectionary touchstone’s murky roots run deep, to the ancient pagan feast of Lupercalia, at least one eponymous martyr, and the Roman custom of creating couples by lottery. By comparison, our modern day of wine and roses seems pretty tame. Are we on your card list this year?
2/17, Presidents Day : George Washington was born on February 22, Abe Lincoln on the 12 th . In 1971 the Uniform Federal Holidays Act blurred both into a generic three-day weekend. It can never occur on the actual birthday of any of the three Presidents born in February, but it gives government employees and bankers a reason to celebrate all our Executives in Chief, deserving or otherwise.
2/29, Leap Year Day : Traditions in various cultures made it OK for women to propose to men on this day and this day only. In Europe, a gentleman who declined a lady’s proposal was obliged to buy her a dozen pairs of gloves.
2/29, International Sword Swallowers Day / Tongue Twister Day : We recommend strongly that you celebrate these occasions sequentially, not simultaneously. 
Salvia Caradonna: Upstanding and Outstanding
As vertical garden accents go, it’s hard to beat Salvia nemorosa . The species is made up of sturdy selections that can handle drought and heat. Bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds go out of their way to explore their columns of florets, but fortunately, deer are turned off by their aromatic foliage.
And as Salvia nemorosa varieties go, it’s hard to beat ‘Caradonna’ . This German selection with the Italian-sounding name is an award-winner on two continents.
           ‘Caradonna’ stands 18-30” tall, and is winter-hardy in Zones 3 – 8. From June to September, it fires fusillades of bright, violet-blue flowers. The color is similar to old favorite S . ‘East Friesland’, but the plant is more rigidly upright and the flowers spring from beautifully-contrasting rich purple stems that make a gorgeous cuts, especially in mixed bouquets. Get ‘em now in fast-finishing 72s.
So bundle up. And check those louvers in House 10 to make sure they’re closing tightly, because you know what happened last year. Finally: Will you be our Valentine? Please say yes. You could do a lot worse, y’know. Don’t make us start up that lottery again. 
John Friel
Marketing Manager