Issue #146 February 2022
February 2022
INTRO

This often-frigid month is named for Februa, a purifying full-moon ritual observed in the ancient Roman lunar calendar. The word is also associated with illness, e.g., when the fevered body purges itself of whatever’s ailing it by… well, you know.

So if you already know you’ll be sick of February before it’s over, you’re doing as the Romans would do. Cheer up! It’s the shortest month for a reason. 
DOWN ON THE FARMS
Florida
We have winter too, y’know. We get below freezing several times a year, but seldom stay there. Which is pretty much the point of being a grower down here: The mild climate suits an enormous range of plants, especially ornamental grasses. Lower heating bills help control our starter prices and your input costs. This month, we’re tenderly tending Calamagrostis, especially the ECG exclusive Hello Spring!® for your growing pleasure.
Calamagrostis xacutiflora Hello Spring!™

Pennsylvania
Yes, FL has winter – sort of. This week, their overnight lows are higher than our afternoon highs. Which makes our northern location a perfect fit for plants that like to play it cool -- like Hakonechloa macra, a.k.a. Japanese forest grass, and Carex pensylvanica. These high-demand, shade-tolerant species can’t be cranked out at will, even by us – and we’re good. We have decent numbers on Availability now, but don’t dawdle while they dwindle. 

Hakonechloa macra

Carex pensylvanica

ROCK STAR 
About the Rock Star Award

Our Rock Star award honors ECG employees who demonstrate a sustained high level of performance and inspire others.
 
Our final Rock Star of 2021 goes to Maria Garcia Mateos
Maria first came aboard as an ECG employee in 2005, and has risen to the position of picking supervisor at our Pensacola location.
 
In The Sound of Music, the cast sings, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” At ECG, the song goes, “How do you solve a problem? Ask Maria!” Listen as her colleagues and managers sing her praises.
 
“Maria has been a consistent part of our order picking process for years. She is steadfast in her work and always reliable. She deserves a Rockstar award!”
 
“Maria has dealt well with significant increases in picking quantities for 2021, doing an excellent job of communicating through the process.”
 
“Maria Garcia Mateos has helped navigate some heavy pick lists, gathering large lists of crops in a timely manner while still being able to keep a cool head.”
 
Congratulations, Maria. Thank you for your dedication and attention to detail. You rock!
Maria Garcia Mateos with ECG's President, Paul Babikow
Maria Garcia Mateos with ECG's Pensacola Manager, Chris Brown
WHAT'S HOT
For years we’ve griped about the industry’s relentless push to make plants smaller. Renowned breeder Hans Hansen has pushed back. The sturdy stems of the Sassy Summer series hoist cheerful flowers up to three feet over silvery green foliage. Flat-topped umbels make a perfect landing pad for pollinators.

Choose from:
Bright sunny yellow.
Height 28-32”

Deep red florets with white eyes.
Height 28 – 32”

Dark orange blooms mature to pale yellow.
Height 30-36”

Dark salmon heads age to peachy pink.
Height 26 - 32”

Better yet, don’t choose: Grow ‘em all and let your customers do that. They’re all excellent choices for the sunny border, or the vase. Hardy in Zones 3 - 8
FEBRUARY FOLLIES

Groundhogs and Cupid get all the press, but here are a few other hype-worthy (sorta) events up February’s sleeve. They’re all real -- except one. Can you spot the phony without resorting to Google? The first three readers to correctly correct the record will receive some ever-so-cool ECG swag.

02/03: The Day the Music Died: On this date in 1959 Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash in Iowa. RIP, Music.

02/04: National Working Naked Day: Remarkably, this was a thing even before Covid lockdowns and working remotely. Just don’t schedule any Zoom meetings.

02/12: Darwin Day: Celebrate the birthday of the guy who explained so, so much.

02/18: Vacuum Cleaner Appreciation Day: Go on, say it if you must. We’ll wait. It’s the birthday of M.T. Spathe, Chicago, who patented the first vacuum cleaner in 1868.

02/20: Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day: Exactly a month before the first day of spring, you go out and holler “Hoodie Hoo!” to hasten its arrival. No hoodie required.

02/24: The Great American Spit Out: No, it’s not a loogie-launching contest, it’s an awareness-raising thing aimed at getting people to give up smokeless tobacco. 
TRAY BON! We Digitalis!
Foxglove makes our heart go pit-a-pat

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ll have fresh crops of all our gorgeous varieties of Digitalis, a.k.a. foxglove, ready to ship. Why is February 14 the perfect time for this particular garden beauty? See “Data and Digressions” below.

Let’s forget matters of the heart and get to the heart of the matter. Here are our favorite selections from this traditional genus.

Dark, rose-pink trumpets with paler speckled throats bloom from late spring deep into summer.
Height: 18–24”.
Hardy in Zones 6–9.

Dalmatian Series
You’re sure to see spots with this charming group. Sturdy columns of lovely trumpets with heavily spotted interiors. Choose from Crème, Peach, Purple and Rose. Better yet, grow ‘em all and let your customers choose!
Height: 16–20”.
Hardy in Zones 5–9.

Crème

Peach

Purple

Rose

This classic mix sets the standard for biennial foxgloves. Tall, stiff stems with red, white and yellow trumpets. A great vertical accent and a fine cut flower with good vase life.
Height: 30”.
Overwinters in Zones 4–8. 

“Strawberry foxglove” sports big, coppery-pink tubular flowers, irresistible to hummingbirds. More shade-tolerant than most, and attractive in or out of bloom.
Height: 2-3’.
Hardy in Zones 6–9.

Data and Digressions

Medicine: Digitalis has been used since at least the mid-1700s as a drug to treat irregular heartbeats and improve blood flow. It’s still prescribed by cardiologists.

History: The Latin name was coined in 1542 by botanist Leonhart Fuchs, for whom Fuchsia is named. But the even older common name “foxglove” has no clear origin; theories include ponderings on fairies, thimbles, musical bells and witches. 

Literature: “Everything that’s happened fits like a bee in a foxglove.” – Fiver, Watership Down by Richard Adams 
Candy is dandy, but foxgloves last longer. Show your customers some love with a gift of heart-warming beauty and steadfast performance. It all comes in sweet, fast-finishing 72-cell liners from Emerald Coast Growers – your easy choice!

EPILOGUE: The Shadow Knows
Unlike Octoraro Orphie and Punxsutawney Phil, growers don’t have the luxury of sleeping in for six weeks of steadily-lengthening days. Spring can be hard to see approaching as your wipers flail at the sleet, but trust us, it’s just over that next rise. We hope you have good tires and a full tank. Or a full charge. Charge!
Be ready! Be well! Stay warm! And Happy Valentine’s Day!
John Friel
Marketing Manager