Issue #124 April 2020
April 2020
Well, the meteorological fears expressed in this space last month proved unfounded. March wandered in like a pussycat and shambled out like a wet shaggy dog. Something scarier than harsh weather roared in instead.
But unless you’ve been comatose – or rafting the Grand Canyon (see Epilogue) – that’s not news, is it? We’re doing all the things you’re doing about it, so no lectures here.
We’re shipping product weekly, our Availability is robust, and we’re here for you. Let’s grow some plants.

A reminder from The Sunshine State: Spring is in transit, Summer’s packed and ready to ship. Tracking numbers on request. Parts of our lives are on hold, but Nature has her own agenda. Plants will grow, flowers will bloom, and our liners help make it happen.

Yeah, what they said: The world is startlingly green and fecund. More and more each day, as cold-held liners emerge from dormancy, the only brown to be found in our shipping house are the boxes that hold your starters.
Aquilegia Origami, Songbird and Swan series are a fast color fix for a quick early turn. On the grassy side of our offering, there’s Festuca ‘Boulder Blue’ and Eilers Beauty™ and the deceptively delicate-looking Nassella tenuissima.

Our Rock Star award honors ECG employees who demonstrate a sustained high level of performance and inspire others. In February we had a tie: Two outstanding staffers shared the top tier of the podium.
Kim Shultz is a silent superstar and a critical part of order processing. Those who work with Kim know her as reliable, respectable, hard-working, and approachable. Kim promotes a standard of excellence in the ECG office and is certainly deserving of our February Rock Star Award.  
Gerald “Gerry” Ziegler, a major part of the perennial logistics team, often gets tasked with a variety of jobs around our Milton property. Gerry brings a great attitude every day and is a true team player, making him equally deserving. Congratulations, Kim and Gerry! Keep up the good work!
Stalwarts Past, Present and Future
We love love LOVE new varieties. They keep life interesting and gardeners interested. They are, as Dr. Allan Armitage says, “The lifeblood of the industry.” But the hoopla around the latest intros can obscure the tried-and-true performers. Let’s hear it for the reliables, the veterans. By no coincidence whatsoever, all these varieties have won the Perennial Plant Association’s prestigious Perennial Plant of the Year award.
Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’: Namesake Swedish nurseryman Magnus Nilsson selected this one after years of trials seeking darker, more horizontal petals.
Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’: When it was new from Kew, some scoffed, “Who wants a coral bells with no coral bells?” Answer: Everybody. This one opened the garden gate for myriad multicolored varieties, turning a dainty cut-flower genus into a rugged, foliage-forward garden specimen. Four decades later, it’s still a winner.
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’: American native, German selection. This oft-misspelled gem’s debut was delayed by World War II. Newer breeding is fantastic, but this is still the gold standard for long bloom and ease of culture.
Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ makes a designer look like a genius. Trouble-free, boldly erect and long-flowering, it’s effective solo or as part of the chorus. From the Deep South to Canada, it’s the one grass to have if you’re having only one – but why on earth would you do that?
You’ll never catch us looking askance at the latest whiz-bangs. Heck, every veteran listed above once was a new, untested whiz-bang. So look back at what worked, around at what’s working, and ahead for what will top the reliables list down the road. Then: offer an appealing blend of all three.

Aries: T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” True dat. Bob Dylan wrote, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” True dat, too, for some of us. But just imagine how good that first fearless hug will feel.
This well-matched, award-winning collection features large flowers on neat, compact mounds. Uniform timing across the series makes for easy cropping and shipping.
UpTick™ Cream PP28964: Solid creamy-white petals and gold stamens.
UpTick™ Cream & Red PP28866: Toothy off-white petals with maroon eye zones.
UpTick™ Gold & Bronze PP28882: A striking bicolor. Rusty-red centers and gold tips.
UpTick™ Yellow & Red PP28865: Cheerful yellow daisies with rich red eye zones.
All are 12 - 14” tall, hardy in USDA Zones 5-9, and ready to roll right now in our quick-finishing, easy-to-handle, economical 72s.

Last month we talked about upcoming events like Yours Truly’s speech in Mobile, Alabama, which was canceled, and CAST. Also moot.
Let’s all set our sights a little farther ahead and plan for a bang-up Cultivate in July, followed by a fantastic PPA Symposium in Lancaster PA in August. We’re counting on it and preparing for it. See you there.
Twelve Grand Canyon rafters got their 15 minutes of fame when, in mid-March, they rowed ashore at Diamond Creek, oblivious to how the world had changed since they launched at Lee’s Ferry in February. I can relate.
In September 2001, shortly after that other date that lives in infamy, I rafted those same 226 river miles. Unlike this crew, we knew what had happened; we pushed off wondering what sort of world we’d return to. That didn’t last. We quickly focused on rowing monster rapids, feeding 16 people, making and breaking camp each day, staying healthy in hostile terrain. On the here and now, on what we could control.
Which is how we’ll navigate the current situation: Supporting our fellow travelers, day by day. Not selfishly taking unnecessary risks that jeopardize others. Keeping the faith and staying the course.
Be well. See you back here next month.
John Friel jf
John Friel
Marketing Manager