October  2016 Issue #82 

Sigh... September is history, the kids are long since back in school, the stores are filled to the gills with candy, witches and reindeer, the politicians will NOT shut up, and another summer's smashed to smithereens. And as usual, I wasn't finished with it: So many things still on the To Do list, so much fun un-had, so many trips un-taken and weeds un-pulled. But ready or not, it's time to don long pants and real shoes again. Which brings up the age-old question: What the heck is a smithereen?

We don't wait for election years: Our grass-roots campaign has been going on for over a quarter century now. In recent weeks we got our red, white and blue fix in grasses with  , 'Cherry Sparkler' and 'Sky Rocket' and Carex 'Blue Zinger'. For the perennial plank of our platform we did the same with Lobelia cardinalis, Phlox 'David' and Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'. Please rise and join us in saluting the sweet flag, Acorus gramineus. This just in: See "What's Hot!" below for juicy news about those buzzy new succulents, Chick Charms® Sempervivum. No debate about it, they're hot.

Pennisetum Rubrum
Pennisetum 'Rubrum'
Pennisetum Cherry Sparkler
Pennisetum 'Cherry Sparkler'
Pennisetum Sky Rocket
Pennisetum 'Sky Rocket'
Carex Blue Zinger
Carex 'Blue Zinger'
Lobelia cardinalis
Lobelia cardinalis
Phlox David
Phlox 'David'
Scabiosa Butterfly Blue
Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'
Acorus g Variegatus
Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus'

A good thing about October: Japanese beetle season ends. Five years ago, we elected to erect screening around our PA greenhouses, a wall to keep out undesirables like JB. Keeping them out makes our liners welcome in every State of this great nation, and Canada, too. Even places with fussy phytosanitary regs are in range from our ranges,  in both FL and PA.

Our sealed Northern border has a fresh seal of approval from the PA Ag Dept. It's like a plant passport! It's huge! And we have a secret plan to make the beetles pay for it!  Fellow North Americans, wherever you are, get a load of our starters! Thank you! Excuse us, we have to go kiss babies now. 


Japanese beetles first appeared in the US in 1916, at a New Jersey nursery. They have, alas, prospered here, living in our lawns and eating everything from asparagus to zinnias, Canna to Cannabis. Adults live only 40 days, but they make the most of it, chowing down on fruits and/or foliage of 300+ species, especially roses and members of Malvaceae, like Hibiscus. Damn them! Deportation isn't an option, but jot this down: Beetle traps make great Christmas gifts for your upwind neighbors. 

In Hollywood, darkness has image issues. Think Film Noir, Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Dark Side. Luckily, the garden isn't cinema. In real life, the dark side provides dramatic contrast. Played against a supporting cast of deep, rich-hued foliage, bright colors really pop. Some of our favorite co-stars:

Short Features: Ajuga 'Black Scallop' and 'Chocolate Chip' are just 3" to 6" tall. Still too lofty? Cast a shadow of ground-hugging Leptinella 'Platt's Black', just 1 - 2".

Ajuga Black Scallop
Ajuga 'Black Scallop'
Ajuga Chocolate Chip
Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'
Leptinella Pla_s Black
Leptinella 'Platt's Black'

Intermission: Satisfy your dusky urge in the mid-border with Heuchera 'Palace Purple' and Penstemon 'Dark Towers'.

Heuchera Palace Purple
Heuchera 'Palace Purple'
Penstemon Dark Towers
Penstemon 'Dark Towers'

Backdrop: Nothing stands taller or darker than the   Royal Collection of Napier grasses. These bold, robust  Pennisetum hybrids make a sweeping (but tender) statement with a size for every role, from under two feet to over six.

Pennisetum First Knight - The Royal Collection
Pennisetum 'First Knight' - The Royal Collection

When you need to create a scene, embrace the dark side. It's downright brilliant!

Libra: Friends need your steady hand and level head to balance their beds, borders and budgets. Weigh your options and recommend Sedum. It always pans out.

Sedum Crystal Pink
Sedum 'Crystal Pink'

Scorpio: Your waspish ways are wearing thin. Try to stay out from underfoot.

Lipio: Just stop it with the plastic surgery, you're skinny enough already.



Production of Sempervivum Chick Charms® is well underway in Florida. This new series from Chris Hansen includes 12 varieties, with novel forms and exciting colors.

They come as two collections of six varieties, in two forms:
-- One tray containing 12 plants each of six varieties, or
-- Six trays, one solid tray each of six varieties.

Collection A consists of Appletini™, Berry Blues™, Cherry Berry™, Cranberry Cocktail™, Fringed Frosting™ and Key Lime Kiss™.

Collection B includes Bing Cherry™, Chocolate Kiss™, Cinnamon Starburst™, Mint Marvel™, Plum Parfait™ and Watermelon Ripple™.

Sempervivum Appletini
Berry Blues
Sempervivum Cherry Berry
Cherry Berry
Sempervivum Cranberry Cocktail
Cranberry Cocktail
Sempervivum Fringed Frosting
Fringed Frosting
Sempervivum Key Lime Kiss
Key Lime Kiss
Sempervivum Bing Cherry
Bing Cherry
Sempervivum Chocolate Kiss
Chocolate Kiss
Sempervivum Cinnamon Starburst
Cinnamon Starburst
Sempervivum Mint Marvel
Mint Marvel
Sempervivum Watermelon Ripple
Watermelon Ripple

We expect our first availability of Chick Charms® in time for the first week of January. We can't wait - and neither should you. Interest is high, so book ASAP.

Smithereens comes from old Irish smidríní, meaning "little bits." It's the diminutive of smiodar, i.e., "fragments." Smithereens is also a rock band who contributed to the score of the baseball film, "Bull Durham." Like our Japanese beetle infestation, they originated in New Jersey. Aren't you glad we asked?

Happy October. May you have your fair share of fun, freedom from political arguments, and leftover shards of summer, even if you have to enjoy them a smithereen at a time. 

John Friel  
Marketing Manager    
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