Issue #134 February 2021
February 2021
YOU CAN ALREADY FEEL…
The days getting longer, can’t you? Day by day, a minute or two at each end. The sun emerges a little earlier and hangs around a little later, warming the soil, gently waking our dormant world. The yearly miracle is happening again.
And we don’t know about you, but reflecting on the bizarre year just passed, we’ve resolved to stop reflecting on it. 
DOWN ON THE FARMS
Florida
It’s February, so Panhandle gardeners and landscapers are busy making the cash registers go Cha-ching! at the GCs. Back at the ranch, we’re already gearing up for your summer needs, backfilling the gaps you made (thanks very much!) in our inventory. But ready right now are some lovely trays of Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ and ‘Beacon Silver’. For the lowdown on these charming low growers, see What’s Hot! below. 
‘White Nancy’
‘Beacon Silver’
Pennsylvania
To go from PA to FL at this time of year is like time-travel into the near future. The light at the end of our northern tunnel is still significantly dimmer and farther away than Florida’s, but it’s coming. And we’re ready to help YOU be ready. On our benches right now are high-demand items like Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Nassella tenuissima, and nicely-chilled liners of Campanula and Aquilegia ready to explode into flower in your containers. 
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
Nassella tenuissima
Campanula
Aquilegia
ROCK STARS 
Our Rock Star award honors ECG employees who demonstrate a sustained high level of performance and inspire others. This month, we have a first: A Rock Star who was a true rock star even before joining – actually, rejoining – Emerald Coast Growers.
Grass Production Supervisor Greg Mandel worked for ECG for several years until his love of music pulled him away. He developed a solid career as the drummer for Black Eyed Blonde, voted Best Band on the Emerald Coast. So he knows about high volume.

“When Greg decided to return to the nursery industry, we welcomed him back,” says President Paul Babikow. “His presence at Milton has been transformative.”

Greg’s co-workers agree.

“Greg handles production so well. With many things going on at once, he maintains a smile through it all. His commitment is outstanding.”

“Positive attitude consistently, great work ethic, and he’s busting records for production efficiency left and right.” 

“Can’t say enough good things about Greg. Definite game changer. He works so hard week in and week out. The results reflect that.”

“Greg stepped up in a big way with a ton thrown at him. The change he has brought to grass production has really turned that section around.”

Greg didn’t need help keeping the beat for his band, but grass production is a very different kind of gig with a rhythm all its own and lots of moving parts. Luckily, he has capable backup: Grass Production Assistant Supervisor Jackie Robinson-Sinkiewicz joins him on the podium for a rare Rock Star duet.

Greg was among those who nominated Jackie. “2020 grass production was highly impacted by Jackie’s outstanding organizational and people skills. I honestly do not know what I would have done without her directing traffic. ECG got lucky when we found her.”

Others joined the chorus:

“December grass production rocked! Greg and Jackie have kept the train moving and on track. Either one of them deserves the recognition.”

“Jackie has proven time and again that she can keep production moving forward with her outstanding attitude and work ethic. She does not hesitate to make improvements. She works side by side with employees and has built a great rapport with everyone at ECG Milton.”

‘She’s doing a killer job helping keep the big production numbers rolling! She’s always in a great mood, very friendly, but also knows how to be firm. She’s proved herself as a valuable member of the team.”

Congratulations, Greg and Jackie! Thank you both for your dedicated effort, day in and day out. You rock!
Greg Mandel
Jackie Robinson-Sinkiewicz
WHAT'S HOT! 
Lamium maculatum
Seldom rising above 8”, this pretty genus sports deceptively delicate-looking foliage that’s actually semi-evergreen. Happiest in partial shade, it can handle both darker and brighter situations. We have a trio for you.
Silver leaves are edged in deep green. Mauve flowers in summer.
Unusually large purple flowers over lovely silver foliage.
White flowers in summer over dense silver foliar carpets. 

Footnote: Im-maculate Perception
Some words seem to describe only negatives. A natty dresser is never described as kempt. A satisfied customer is unlikely to say they’re gruntled.

But that’s English, not Latin. The specific epithet maculatum means “spotted.” The English equivalent, maculate, is rarely used, so to remember the meaning, think of the opposite: Immaculate = spotless.
Don’t leave your customers in limbo. Raise the bar. Raise their consciousness. Get the lowdown on the down-low from Emerald Coast Growers – your easy choice!
IN MEMORIAM: Anthony Venturino
Tony Venturino passed away unexpectedly in late January in Florida, where he had retired in 2019 from Eason Horticultural Resources. Before EHR, he worked for another of our brokers, Henry F. Michell Co.

Tony was a big, friendly, gregarious guy, someone we looked forward to seeing at trade shows. Remember trade shows? Remember actually seeing people, not just their Zoom avatars? They’ll be back. Alas, Tony will not. May he rest in peace.
GRIDDLE WINNERS
Puzzleczarina Anna Graham extends her thanks to all who completed and returned last month’s Griddle word-search game. Congratulations to this month’s three winners, plucked at random from among all our plucky solvers.

Let’s hear it for Penny DiGioia, John Rich Landscaping & Perennials; Trilby Libhart from PA; and George Zuck of Zuck’s Cedar Ridge Nursery. Thanks, all, for playing! Tune in again next month for a new challenge. 
A NEW GOLDEN AGE? BRING IT ON!
Chuck Pavlich is Director of New Product Development at one of the industry’s most prolific and innovative breeders, Terra Nova Nurseries. Quoted in Greenhouse Grower, Chuck said, “I feel we are heading into the second golden age of perennials. The oncoming millennials and their willingness to experiment will drive a large part of the market. We’d better pay attention.” Amen to that! Keep the good stuff coming!


In a similar vein, GrowerTalks publisher/pundit Chris Beytes says 2020’s record sales weren’t necessarily a fluke – and that if we exercise due diligence, we can help make sure they weren’t.

See Chris’s take and recommendations here: https://www.growertalks.com/Article/?articleid=24912
EPILOGUE
Yes, 2020 managed to pull off the ultimate paradox: It was simultaneously memorable and forgettable, and both in spades.
But that’s the last you’ll read about it here. This Space prefers to look ahead, to focus on the future. The winter of our discontent is waning already at our Southern location, and PA is just a few (long) weeks behind. C’mon along with us into the brave new world of Spring 2021! 
John Friel
Marketing Manager