I’m a big fan of our native flora, but each spring, one big beautiful mess of a tree in front of my house makes me question the wisdom of that fandom.
The eastern US is rendered inarguably lovelier, but significantly sloppier, by the statuesque native tulip tree. A.k.a. fiddle tree, Liriodendron tulipifera is named and famed for its big yellow/orange cupped flowers. It’s also cursed for its prolific production of what I thought was sap -- drippy, sticky sap – but which is actually “honeydew” secreted by scale bugs, aphids or both. Eww.

And then there’s the endless shower of seeds. If 1% germinated and grew to maturity, and 1% of that 1% followed suit, the country would be blanketed by an impenetrable Liriodendron forest. Here’s to infertility.


Speaking of infertility: Our infertile Miscanthus selections will soon have company. Three new infertile Pennisetum varieties will debut in our new 2017-2018 catalog, currently under construction. Why fountain grass? Because landscapers and designers say the genus has self-sowing issues, i.e., a habit of popping up where it wasn’t planted and isn’t necessarily wanted. If that’s your experience – and it certainly isn’t everybody’s – stay tuned. Options are in the works.


It’s time for another in a series of periodic reminders that no matter where we grew your liners – PA or FL – you can pick them up here with no shipping costs. If you’re anywhere in the MidAtlantic or even beyond (we have one picker-upper who hails from Canada, eh!), do the math and consider motoring up, down or over to Lancaster PA. While you’re here, take a stroll though our trial garden. It’s looking great right now!

Consider the curious case of a native American grass with a French-sounding Latin name from Spain.
The genus name Bouteloua honors botanizing brothers Claudio and Exteban Boutelou. The cheerful little drought-tolerant grass was collected by a Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain (now Mexico, or perhaps Texas) in the late 1700s.
“Blue grama grass” is a handsome clumper with small purple flowers that segue into cute seedheads cocked at an angle like jaunty little pennants. Grey-green foliage turns bright gold in fall. At just 2’ or less, it’s a winner in containers or borders. And it’s good to go in fast-finishing 38s right now. Stop reading and order some. You can come back. We’ll be here.

Eww! meets Moo! Certain ants “farm” aphids for their sweet honeydew, keeping them in underground herds like dairy cattle – hence the name “ant cow.”
Multitaskers: Novelist Vladimir Nabokov, author of
Lolita , was also an amateur lepidopterist who published articles on butterfly taxonomy.
Eww! meets Mmmm! The aroma of cooking cabbage is strongly attractive to flies. Close your screens tightly before whipping up a batch of halupki or you’ll have company.
Two recent additions to our repertoire are in good supply right now, ready to plant and sell this season.
™ PPAF The smallest of our infertile (i.e., functionally sterile) “maiden grass” offerings stands just two to three feet tall. Its narrow blades are so heavily gold striped, you’d think King Midas brushed by. Great for containers, too.
Hello Spring!
™ Say Hello! to this beautifully variegated ECG intro, featuring crisp, uniform green & white stripes and an elegant habit.

Back to my beloved bane of a tree. If I park too close, the sticky exudate glues windows shut and welds wipers to windshield. After a major pollen-shedding event by nearby flora, my blue car has a hazy chartreuse ‘flocked’ look.
Come fall, I’ll rake a million broad, lawn-smothering leaves. All year, I pick up enough branches that I seldom need to chop kindling. Still, the beast’s beauty beguiles. Liriodendron’s filthy habits, while hardly endearing, are also not deal-breakers. As long as the Baltimore orioles return each year to weave their pendulous nests in it, it’ll stay on my honeydew list. It’s mediocre firewood anyway.
Into each life, some loveable messes must fall. Anyone with kids, pets and/or a tulip tree can attest to that.

John Friel
Marketing Manager