As I write this missive, my hands are scratched and sore from wreathmaking.  But you are reading it in the promising, magical January days where dreams of the perfect season start to become reality, so I will leave the present behind.  I am very pleased and honored to be your incoming Regional Director. Chas  did a great job, and he left some large and muddy shoes for me to shlump around in.

This issue is filled with some of our favorite reading—the Seed Trial Reports—and I am happy to say that last year’s Trial had some really good varieties (at least on my little farm).  Speaking of last year, I did some independent foliage trials, and my favorite from that was the Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’, which I grew from seed.  It is a “Fantastic Foliage” selection.  I started it in March in the greenhouse, bumped it up to a 128-cell tray in mid April, and kind of neglected it for a while because it didn’t look like much (I know that never happens at your place…) so it didn’t go out to the field until late June.  Despite this, it grew really well and I cut upwards of  1200 stems off of about fifty plants, spaced about 8 inches by 12 inches in three rows.  Stem length was 16-19 inches.

It just cranked out, and we didn’t have that hot of a summer here in New England.  There was a little wilting if the stems were too young, so I cut heavily in one area, and rotated around the patch over a couple of weeks to get more mature stems.  Nothing ate it.  No diseases.  For postharvest, I cut into water and held in preservative, but I also used plain water in the later part of the season and it held well.  It does turn the water a bit pink at first.  Stems are really dark and I used it a lot in mixed bouquets, especially with those late summer dark reds and oranges.  I also sold a fair amount as straight stems to market customers.  It has this really lovely metallic shimmer in the sun.  It held up for about a week in Oasis as well.  What’s not to like?  It is definitely an annual, as the first frost brought it down to a stemmy mush, so in more northern areas you might not want to leave it the tray as long as I did.

Since my main duties are this column and Regional Meetings, I have been thinking quite a bit about content and sites for the next couple of meetings.  I would love to host you all in my little state by the sea, and I would also like to hold a meeting in upstate New York, to be more convenient to the northwestern Northeast Region, and to showcase some members up there.

Sadly, I know only a few of our New York members well, and have visited none at all, so I am actively seeking suggestions for good Regional Meeting sites.  (Thanks to the members who chimed in at the Raleigh meeting, and the folks I’ve had a  chance to talk with already.)  Although it was before my time, our last New York meeting was at Cornell, so perhaps something closer to Saratoga?  Please let me know at [email protected] if you can host, or know a good place to go, or, most importantly, if you can be part of a Regional Meeting committee!  If we can pull off a New York meeting for this year, great, or we can meet in Rhode Island in ’08 and New York in ’09.  It’s your ASCFG, so let me know.