A "Rocking" Spring and more great plants coming!

Spring is rocking here and I hope it is for you too. As you can see from the ever-shrinking availability list, we’ve shipped a lot of material lately. Of the retail garden centers I’ve talked to this week, all were very busy last weekend. As much as it pains me to say it, given the amount of time, money and effort I put into the business, we’re all at the mercy of the weather to a frightening extent. The last two springs have been lackluster to say the least, so I’m hoping we all have a better spring this year. As I’ve said before, we deserve it. All I can say at the moment is so far, so good.

We have a lot of inventory that will be very nice when we get a spring flush. I expect that by the first of May we’re going to be in much better shape for availability. I realize that this arrangement does very little for either one of us at the moment, but, as the current saying goes; it is what it is.

We grew fewer Heucheras this year but we grew them in a heated house as opposed to covered, unheated one. The difference, even with the drastic weather we had, is striking. Both varieties are outstanding right now. If you haven’t tried Heuchera you might want to think about it. They’re shade-loving perennials, like Hosta, that have very impressive foliage. Brass Lantern, as you might expect, is bronze colored and Black Beauty is a deep maroon. I have not had a wealth of experience with these plants but I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

The other plant I want to spotlight, although it’s a little late now, is Magnolia stellata ‘Water Lily’. They’re in full bloom, at least for the next couple of hours, and they are absolutely beautiful. I normally don’t fool around with growing something that doesn’t sell all that well but I’m breaking my rule here. I think, given a little time and some promotion, this could be an outstanding retail seller. If I’m wrong I’ll have a spectacular yard in a few years but I believe in my soul that when displayed in any garden center in America, this thing will sell itself.

We finished up Mardi Gras last weekend, thank God. Mardi Gras might not be a big deal where you live, but in Mobile, where an awful lot of our friends live, it is huge. It’s even huger amongst Catholics, which a lot of our friends are. I can’t say I have a real gripe with the whole concept of Mardi Gras. As a protestant it has always been something of a non-issue for me; that is, it was a non-issue until several of our good friends had girls who were members of the court. What I do have a gripe with is being forced to dress up. Like most farmers, I detest even wearing a necktie, let alone tails. But my wife loves to go, and one of my most recited phrases is “Happy wife, happy life”. Amen, brother. 

I don’t know how these twenty or so young ladies are selected to be members of the court or by what criteria they are chosen, but I will be forever grateful that we only have boys. I wouldn’t even want to speculate how much it costs to have a daughter as part of Mardi Gras royalty, but it’s a bunch. At the King’s Ball, the one we got invited to, all of the girls and their escorts parade around the ballroom (actually the Mobile convention center all gussied up) to the applause and adulation of several thousand people. Thus far in my life I have never suffered from kidney stones, but I have a hard time believing they could be all that much worse than attending one of these affairs.

But this year I got tossed a bone of sorts, even if in a fairly minor way. The young man (they’re all 21) who was escorting the daughter of one of our friends, while standing on the rostrum with the entire court in all its pageantry and majesty, and while basking in the gaze of three thousand admirers, fainted dead away. Because the platform they were all standing on was carpet covered scaffolding, it sounded like thunder when he hit. Luckily the only injuries he suffered were to his jaw and to his pride, both relatively minor.

I realize this may sound cruel to the uninitiated but, to me, it’s like these minor disasters that occur at weddings sometimes (like the trumpet player at ours). It makes them memorable and infinitely more bearable. Naturally I didn’t guffaw at this young man’s mishap, even after we found out he wasn’t hurt, but it sure did go a long way toward turning an insufferable highbrow affair into The Three Stooges. I am forever grateful for that too!

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