Issue #145 January 2022
January 2022
“Hello, Goodbye” – The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour

Lennon & McCartney probably didn’t have New Years in mind when they penned that tune, but it fits January nicely, doesn’t it? This chilly month is named for Janus, the two-faced Roman god who gazed into the future and the past simultaneously.

As for the album title, the just-ended 2021 tour had a certain amount of magic and a lot of mystery, didn’t it? We hope yours had more of the former. 
We bet you didn’t even notice, but our grass & perennial farm at Milton became our shipping point in December. This momentous change became inevitable as more and more production took place there.

Yours Truly just spent a week in the Panhandle, admiring the expansive transformations and transformative expansions at Milton: New growing space, new shipping area, new traffic flow, new land! Numbers and pictures didn’t prepare me for Being There. It’s a big place. To walk the whole range, you’d better pack a lunch. It’s also a well-laid-out, up-to-date facility, the ideal incubator for your starters, and it’s still evolving and improving daily. It’s better as you read this than it was when I typed it. Didn’t notice? Good!

Monochromatic winter has taken over outdoors, but indoors our benches are a veritable Amish quilt of colors. Big swaths of Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’ and ‘All Gold’ here, a stripe of Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’ there. Bands of silvery/green Achillea Desert Eve and Lavandula ‘Blue Spear’ in the warm houses, the surprisingly tough, near-evergreen foliage of Aquilegia and the cheerful chartreuse of Sagina in cooler places.
Hakonechloa ‘All Gold’

Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’

We’re also getting ready for MANTS, possibly setting up our booth as you read this. See ECG On The Road Again below for details. 
Our Rock Star award honors ECG employees who demonstrate a sustained high level of performance and inspire others. Our latest recipient: Thomas “Bama” McNair, who’s in charge of grounds at the Milton, FL location. As his nickname suggests, he hails from “Sweet Home” Alabama, and is a huuuuge fan of the Crimson Tide football team, who will meet SEC rival Georgia in the national championship game on Jan 10th.
If there’s one trait that all our Rock Star winners share, it’s a “whatever it takes” mindset. Flexibility is essential in many industries, but none more so than horticulture.

Bama’s duties range from expected items like mowing, weed-eating, trash removal and pressure washing to general machine servicing, light excavation, flowerbed landscape maintenance and irrigation installation. In less than a year, he’s earned Rock Star status in the eyes of his peers and managers. Here’s what they had to say:

“Bama has proven repeatedly his work ethics and his dedication to this company. This man puts in hard work and never complains, he only asks for more. I know he is still new to ECG but it’s hard not to nominate such a hard-working employee.”
“Bama is our groundskeeper. It’s hard work and he always has a great attitude about it. He keeps the floors pressure washed as well in the greenhouses. I’ve never seen someone move as fast as he does.”
“Bama is a genuine hard-working, bad to the bone machine.“
“Bama has a motor that does not stop. He is an inspiration to watch. Give him an assignment and please stay out of his way, ‘cause it’s getting done!”
“Thomas has been with ECG for less than a year, but has already proven his value to the company. He is deserving of Rockstar recognition.”
“Bama is a great guy to work with and an important asset to ECG.”
Grounds maintenance is an important but often-overlooked aspect of a greenhouse operation. Everyone prefers working in a well-maintained facility, but that’s just part of it. A clean greenhouse reduces pressure from weeds, algae and disease, making it easier for our growers and crews to produce quality products.

Congratulations, Mr. McNair, and thank you for your part of Emerald Coast’s continuing quest to improve. Roll Tide!
One of my favorite changes at Milton: A whole greenhouse block dedicated to “feather reed grass,” especially ‘Karl Foerster’, of course. We grow seven varieties, but the 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year is the one gardeners know by name.

If ‘Karl’ is the only one you’ve tried, you owe it to your customers to give some of the others a chance. Naturally, we’re partial to Hello Spring®, our exclusive variegated form. But all seven are on Availability right now!

We have over an acre dedicated to this single genus. And thanks to expansion and consolidation, it’s got its own nifty indoor space to call home. You could call it The House that Karl Built. 

Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
ECG On The Road Again
Ready or not, it’s trade show season again. Live, in-person events are a thing again. January finds us back in familiar haunts as if the 2021 editions never didn’t happen.

MANTS January 5 – 7: The MidAtlantic Nursery Trade Show sounds regional, but it’s become a true national/international event. And it just happens to be in the back yard of our Pennsylvania growing range. We’ll be holding down the fort at Booth 710-712.

GSHE January 20 21: The Gulf States Horticultural Expo began in 1999 and has grown to be a premier Southern winter industry event, with a day of educational seminars. If you’re attending, please track us down in Booth #628-630.
DELOSPERMA: The Succulent that Suffers from Stagefright, Sorta

Speaking of trade shows: Here’s why we’re sometimes reluctant to show off one of our favorite perennials. “Ice plant” is a wonderful, easy-growing ground cover or container plant for full sun. We grow 16 varieties!
Every one has wonderful starry flowers in nifty hues – solids, bicolors, even tricolors – and just one frustrating trait. Choose from: 

The original! Sea-glass green foliage with small, fluorescent purple flowers.

One hot ice plant! From Plant Select®, so you know it’s drought-tolerant.

Five long-blooming gems, most with two-toned petals around contrasting centers.

WoW! is a fitting acronym for these six beauties. Large, glossy flowers on a backdrop of rich green foliage. 

Our latest addition. Three varieties, bred to boast the biggest blooms in the bunch. Suitable for larger pots and even hanging baskets. 

We love ‘em all, and you will too. But their cheerful sunny nature has a tiny drawback: They love full sun so much, we can’t get them to show their pretty faces at trade shows. No convention center has enough light to coax them out of hiding so you too can see why we’re such fans.

It’s a charming characteristic in the garden, where they close up at night and on cloudy days. We just wish they’d show off for company indoors. Come see us at MANTS and GSHE – and bring some sunshine with you!
“Another year over / And a new one just begun.” – John Lennon

Weren’t The Beatles the epitome of synergy? You know, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts? It says here, nothing any of them did after the breakup was one fourth, or even one tenth, as good or as memorable as what they’d achieved as the Fab Four. Exhibit A: The banality of the headline up there. Really not a lyrical lyric.

Let that be a lesson to us all: We’re stronger, smarter, cooler and more effective when we work in harmony. Synergy isn’t just for rock & roll stars, or Rock Stars: It’s good for families, companies, industries, nations and humanity.
May 2022 be the year when we all find ways to come together for the greater good, the larger cause, the whole enchilada. Take a sad song, and make it better. We can work it out. Because I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
From all of us at ECG, Happy New Year. Coo coo cachoo!
John Friel
Marketing Manager