November 2016 Issue #83

The Family Two-Story True Story

November is, among many other things, Family Stories Month. Here's one: Once upon a time in the 1890s, my grandfather built a house. My family has lived in it since. But the time has come to empty and sell it. Letting it go is a painful process on several levels, but especially below ground. 

A word of advice: Memory Lane leads to the landfill. Go to your basement. Get rid of unused stuff. Sell it, give it away, donate it, kick it to the curb and mark it FREE, shred it, burn it, recycle it. Go now! Shed load! Your descendants will thank you.



Thanks for asking, but Hurricane Matthew did not, repeat not, reach the FL Panhandle. Unlike our less fortunate fellow Floridians to the east, ECG's farms and greenhouses were unaffected. Production and crop care continue apace at our Pace, Pensacola and Milton locations. We're busily making the liners you'll need in 2017, and keeping a watchful eye on those already finished and awaiting your specified ship date. 

In non-plant-related activity, upper management is spearheading the drive to ban shredded cheese and make America grate again.


Last month's Perennial Conference at Scott Arboretum in Swarthmore was, as always, a great day of mingling mingled with learning among fellow hardy plant enthusiasts. For 30+ years the PC has presented A-list speakers from near and far to an audience of professionals - growers, designers, landscapers, retailers -- and avid gardeners. Mid-Atlantic plantfolk: Mark your calendars for October 20, 2017. See you there!
  WHAT'S HOT?   Succulents!   But...
We Aren't Family
This is a November non-family story. People speak of "the succulent family," but there's no such thing. Succulence is a suite of characteristics --  leathery/rubbery epidermis, mucilaginous sap, stingy stomata -- shared by multiple families and genera, hardy and tender. Succulent plants evolved where it was necessary to capture and store water through dry times. Those stingy survival tactics serve them well in myriad situations, from windowsill to windswept green roof. Succulence also creates counterintuitive kinships between plants that actually ARE related.

Sedum & Sempervivum, two very hardy succulents, belong to the family Crassulaceae. So does the tender jade plant. We grow literally dozens of Sedum and Sempervivum. Bees love Sedum, too, especially the big-flowered uprights like ‘Autumn Joy’, ‘Crystal Pink’ and ‘Class Act’.

Aloe vera calls Asphodelaceae home, making it a distant relative of our distinctly non-succulent Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’ and ‘Stella de Oro’.

Delosperma pledges allegiance to Aizoaceae, which has no other household-name genera. I‘d never heard of Skiatophytum. And excuse me... Namibia? Isn’t that a country? Stick with the Jewel of Desert and Wheels of Wonder® series.

Native Lewisia, a member of Portulacaceae, is kin to the weedy, edible purslane that invades cracks in your sidewalk. Our Rainbow mix Lewisia is not only a perfect rock garden plant but a nifty small-pot houseplant, to boot.


November holds a few biggie dates, like the end of Daylight Savings Time, a.k.a. sleep-in day, and Thanksgiving, a.k.a. food coma day, goes without saying. But that's not the only edibles event: There's Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Fig Week, and my favorite, Sweet Potato Awareness Month. Don't judge. I yam what I yam. 


“Gardens are not nature.” – Larry Hodgson, at Swarthmore

“Truth is the only soil that grows beautiful things.” – Carolyn Hax

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin


Goodbye, Mr. Clips!

We’re the first to perk up and check out updates in phones, hardware, software, greenhouse tech – and especially plant genetics.

But we also have “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” tattooed inside our eyelids. We love our tried-and-true varieties that come through for us, and for you, every time. And that perfectly describes Campanula carpatica ‘Blue Clips’ and ‘White Clips’. They’re standards. Not “standard” as in ho-hum, standard as in that by which we gauge the merits of promising newcomers.

‘Blue Clips’ and ‘White Clips’ are the gold standard to which other Campanula must measure up. As edging or flowering pot crops, you can count on them. But the seed company has discontinued the series. We’ve sown the last batch.

Losing the Clips is like saying goodbye to a trusted friend. Small numbers are available now, with more due in December and March. But when those are gone, they’re gone.

Get the proven performance and classic cuteness of ‘Blue Clips’ and ‘White Clips’ one last time, in our reliable, fast-finishing 72s. It’ll be a grand finale.

EPILOGUE: Back to the Family

My Depression-seasoned ancestors were loath to discard anything. I hope yours were less acquisitive, but I’m willing to wager your digs are also possessed by possessions whose value ranges from dubious to negative – i.e., it’ll cost you to get rid of them.

Don’t bother trying to fathom why someone saved them in the first place. A broken magazine rack that was ugly even when intact, a dismantled drill, a ’57 Ford fuel pump? There’s no logical answer.

Moral: Don’t make this nostalgic nightmare your legacy. Don’t leave future generations questioning your sanity. Go. When the basement is empty, take a break. Shed a memorial tear. Then, start on the attic.

John Friel
Marketing Manager