Issue #123 March 2020
March: the $log Days
March, not January, is the month they should’ve named for Janus, two-faced god of beginnings and endings. March, the month that can’t decide whether to extend winter, or spring for spring. March, 31 days that feel like the last 31 miles of a cross-country drive, 31 miles that crawl by like the first thousand.
But then again, it's March, that magical month when the cash flowmeter finally starts spinning out of the red and into the black. Wipe your muddy shoes and c’mon in.

Florida : Phenoms and Rock Stars
Phenom : Geranium ‘Rozanne’ looks phenomenal in our phenomenal new Milton, FL perennial production space. She’s hardly the only looker on the benches, but ‘Rozanne’ gets special mention because we have good availability – for now – of this PPA Perennial Plant of the Year winner, the one voted “Most Likely to Be Chronically Sold Out” by her high school classmates back in jolly old England. 
Rock Stars :   Our new Rock Star award honors ECG employees who demonstrate a sustained high level of performance and inspire others to do their best. The first winner: Jake Verlinde, Facilities Manager and project leader, who’s been with us nearly 10 years. Jake and his crew did the heavy lifting when we recently consolidated operations from an outdated facility to the aforementioned new greenhouses, where production is already humming smoothly. Thanks and congratulations, Jake! 
Pennsylvania: Still flue season

That’s no typo, that’s flue, as in chimney. Our rear-view shows a mostly mild winter, meaning nature has some catching up to do. The law of averages is strictly enforced. Some years, March brings our heaviest blizzards. Crocuses bloom, and then the bottom falls out of the thermometer.
It’s an interesting time of year indoors under the poly, too. In these warm greenhouses, fresh Lewisia and Gaillardia seedlings taste the air, while Lavandula , Achillea and Sagina cuttings send down eager new roots. Down the hall in cooler houses, semi-dormant Hakonechloa and Asclepias begin to stir as the days lengthen. 
Opportunity : Late summer/early fall market for fresh, flowering perennials.
Barrier : By then, perennial favorite Echinacea is flowered out and way past “fresh.”
Solution : Our short-day Echinacea program!

Starting in spring, we delay the flowering response of a popular coneflower by manipulating (shortening) its daylength. It makes up for lost time in your pots, setting buds and blooming weeks after untreated plants are spent. 

We chose ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ , a compact, well-branched variety that’s not afraid of the dark. Gardeners love its carefree nature and its cheerful mix of gold, red, purple, cream and yellow single daisies. Solo or combined, it makes a great show in container or border. Three liners in a two-gallon pot will reward you with a spectacular finish.

So Shhh! Please don’t tell our Echinacea it’s time to flower. We’re keeping it in the dark until shipping begins Week 23 (May 31) so you can pot it for late summer/early fall finishing. We have limited space to produce this labor-intensive crop, so get us your numbers ASAP!

Open a long sales window with short-day Echinacea in our 72’s. For more cultural info, check out this article by Jonathan Babikow, head grower at our PA greenhouses. 
■ On March 31, a.k.a. April Fool’s Eve, a big holiday nowhere, yours truly speaks about grasses at the Alabama Master Gardeners Association’s Annual Conference in Mobile.
■ While on the Emerald Coast, I’ll also get my first first-hand look at the new space I’ve been writing about at our Pensacola and Milton, Florida sites. Can’t wait!
■ Heading west for California Spring Trials? CAST has evolved over the decades to its current roster of 13 locations, many with multiple exhibitors. It runs March 28 – April 1.

Pisces : Your head feels like you have too many browser tabs open, slowing your brain’s CPU. You stare at words on your screen, but no links click in your skull. Get up. Move around. Breathe. Find the nearest Aries, and do whatever they say.
Aries : A Pisces colleague will soon come to you fishing for advice. Be kind, and maybe they’ll take on your weekend watering chores while you jet off to CAST.
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
How’s your view, ahead and behind, as February’s icy offramp merges into your personal March? Are you shoveling snow, or mulch? Are you there yet?
‘Tis the season to be manic, but we wish you safe passage. We’re growers. We get it. And we’ll do whatever we can to smooth the last few miles of your journey through March Madness to April Insanity. Psst! You can kill your turn signal now.
John Friel
Marketing Manager