16 August 2010

Echinaceas on Parade!

A few posts back, I promised a roundup of some of the newer and more popular coneflowers that have been firing up gardeners' and plant breeders' imaginations. I thought that it would be nice to do one now, given that my recent column in the paper is on coneflowers but for some inscrutable reason, the photos were printed in black and white rather than colour. It's kind of hard to sell someone on the wow factor of a not-purple coneflower when its showing in shades of grey. So here is a bouquet of some new favourites, some older all stars, with my notes on them to date.

One of the things that happens when you aren't meticulous with labelling, mapping, or even keeping track of where you bought or were given plants is that you then don't remember what you planted where. Even when labels are put in the ground, they can arbitrarily leap out during a winter frost-heaving festival. So you wait until the plant blooms and then hope to be definitive about which variety is where. I'm still waiting on a few late-comers to start blooming, but I've pretty much gotten the rest figured out.

Like the one above. Initially I thought it was 'Sundown', but now I'm sure it's 'Summer Sky', because it's taller at 40+ inches, starts to show the ring of purple with outer, orangy colouring on the petal tips fairly promptly after the petals open. Add to that the dark stems and it seems a match for 'Summer Sky'. 'Sundown' is a little shorter and doesn't show purple colouring; unless this is actually the no-longer available 'Sunset'? Oh me aching head!

Not everyone likes the double-flowered echinaceas, but as I've remarked before, I'm very fond of them. I especially like the way they change colour as the flowers open and mature. This is one of the 'Secret' series that Terra Nova carries, 'Secret Passion.' The flower gradually deepens to a rich deep rosy pink cone and orange-pink petals. It's pretty cool, and seems very vigourous. This is its first year in my garden.

I wonder who comes up with names like this compact variety sports: 'Pow Wow Wild Berry' is doing splendidly from having been planted as a seed back in the spring. It's a good front-of-border plant and seems destined to be popular, providing its vigour includes good winter hardiness. Ask me next spring.

My gardens are a little slower than those of many people, because it's cooler here on the hill, and I do have some shade. A few varieties are later in blooming, whether because they'll always be later blooming or because this is their second year and they're in 'creep mode', I don't know. 'Mac n Cheese' is just getting going.

Not everyone is excited by white coneflowers, but I like them because they're crisply cool and a nice contrast to their more hot-coloured counterparts. This is 'Jade', developed by Piet Oudolf, and doing very well in its third season in my garden.

You didn't think I'd let this post go through without showing off 'Hot Papaya' again, did you? Of course not, even if I did just do a post the other day about this beauty. It get more interesting with each passing day, I swear. The only thing I've decided is that I should move it to another spot where it will get more attention; it's shorter than some of its relatives, at least this year, although it's supposed to grow 30-36 inches. I'm going to mark it carefully and watch it, and see what it does next year.

Another double, 'Coconut Lime' is pretty cool in my books. 'Meringue' is somewhat similar but has a more yellowy cast to the central cone. Or at least it does in my garden.

'Harvest Moon' has been around for a few years now and once established, shows itself to be a fine plant, with a different colour than other yellow or orange varieties. Its petals flex backward as it matures, which some don't like, but which is part of its breeding.

Another Piet Oudolf introduction, 'Green Jewel' is for those of us who enjoy green flowers. You can count me in that category.

'Green Eyes' looks like an 'ordinary' purple coneflower (if there is such a thing' except for the green 'eye' in the central cone. The flowers are a rich dark magenta, not really showing off their charms in this sun-lit photo.

Since it came out a few years ago, 'Green Envy' has held me in its thrall. It's a later-blooming one, just getting going nicely in my garden, but it also blooms well into October. I've been extremely satisfied with this plant and recommend it highly to those with a yen for green flowers.

'Tangerine Dream' is one of the really, REALLY orange-flowered varieties. It is said not to fade its colour as the flowers age, and so far I have certainly found that to be true. It has big flowers with wide petals, and a nice honey scent. Definitely in my top five.

'Hope' is unusual for its soft pink colour, its big flowers with big central button-like cones, and its nice fragrance. It's also later blooming in my garden, just getting around to extending its petals and showing its colour now. But it's worth waiting for.

'FlameThrower' is another of the orange varieties, this one with a darker ring of orange near the cone. So far mine has only produced one flower because this is its first year and I was brave, and cut off all the original stems that were going to bloom, so that it would put its growth into foliage instead.

Coneflowers look spectacular when they are in a mass planting, such as this one. I hasten to add, this isn't in my garden, but in a fabulous garden up near Truro. I hope to do a post on this garden sometime soon.

Is it 'Razzamatazz'? Is it 'Pink Double Delight'? I don't know. I have had both, and somehow planted them near to one another, but another PDD is about to bloom in another part of the garden. So I'll do a compare and contrast and we'll see what we have.

'Tiki Torch' is doing spectacularly for my friend Rob Baldwin, who has some fine plants in the display beds at his nursery. Here, it's a little slow developing, but it's only in its second year and I don't like to rush perennials. The good thing about having such a variety of them is that there's always something going on with them.

Another of the 'Big Sky' series, this is 'Sunrise', which for some people gets quite pale as the flowers age, and for others seems to hold its colour nicely. In my garden, it's preparing to bloom, trailing along with the likes of 'Tomato Soup', 'Mac n Cheese', and 'Twilight'. I also have 'Ruby Star', 'Magnus', and a host of seedlings that could be from 'Magnus' and might be from others, but I won't post them here. They're splendid and wonderful, don't get me wrong--my only wish is that they came a little earlier in my garden season. Because with them coming on in August, I get that sinking feeling that comes with knowing that summer is on the downward slide. On the other hand, they give me weeks and weeks and weeks of delight, so that is a very good thing.


  1. I think the white coneflowers is really cool.

  2. Jodi, you really make me want to grow these plants. I have one, which is meant to be double-decker, I have only had single flowers from it - which I think I probably prefer. But it seems a week plant and not very happy. I have had it for 2-3 years and it hasn't got any bigger but I moved it in the spring. Now it is very unhappy, hopefully next year I will get some flowers again. I really must buy some of the lovely varieties you show.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  3. You do have a great collection of Cone Flowers. Every time I see them I want to start a similar collection. Mine are just about finished blooming. The Goldfinches have taken them over. Happy GBBD.

  4. I had no idea there were so many cultivars of coneflower. They are all so pretty! I do like that massing of the different types in the garden. Hope you can post on it. Here in my garden I have only the 'White Swan', the purple ones, and a yellow one that I believe is 'Sunrise'. At first I was NOT a fan of the different colored coneflowers but that 'Sunrise' has changed all that. It is holding its own and I hope will spread. I thought it had died when I saw its yellow smile. One just can't help but smile when coneflowers are on view. Thanks for showcasing them.

  5. I enjoyed looking at all your cone flowers....very pretty! I think green flowers are so interesting. My Green Envy just started blooming. It is very pink and I'm wondering if it will turn green. Maybe, I received the wrong plant in the mail. :/

  6. I think you've just added several coneflowers to the wish list! Tangerine Dream and Harvest Moon in particular. Most of our coneflowers are either faded from the drought or have been devoured by the silvery checkerspot caterpillars. Frustrating but that's life in the garden.

  7. I tried coneflowers for the first time this year. They do not like me, I've discovered. I've always thought they were relatively easy to grow. I must have planted them in the wrong place...they're in full sun, but the NC sun must just be too brutal for them.

  8. Jodi, I really loved seeing these photos with all the variety and color! ...would especially appreciate knowing if the two green Piet's were purchased in our neck of the woods? Would very much like to try them.

    Also, thanks for your kind blog comment; I am thinking Inula needs a better spot, now that the pea has been removed))).

    Great write up in the Halifax Herald as always)))

    Look forward to seeing more photos of the Truro garden.

  9. Jodi, I'm a HUGE cone flower fan! Especially the new varieties...so much to like! I can only imagine your frustration when your article was printed in B/W. REALLY?!?!?! Morons! But, I'm so glad you've shared it here...in color!!

    I especially love the Hot Papaya (how could I not?!), Tangerine Dream and the Tiki Torch. Tiki Torch has been on my wish list for a while now, as well as the new super pink and buttony "Gum Drop". Now the Hot Papaya and Tang. Dream will be added to the list as well.

  10. Bren, I got 'Green Jewel' down at Ocean View this year. Unfortunately, I bought 'Jade' three or four years ago and have no idea where I got it. I need to mark my cones carefully this fall so I can divide the bigger ones next spring and won't have to wait til August to figure out who is who.
    Kyna, what about moisture? A couple of things about coneflowers: they are drought tolerant once established but they need regular watering while they're establishing in their first year or two. Also, if you buy them in bloom or near to bloom, be brave and cut those stems off before planting them. They will settle in better and make strong crowns of lower leaves, the secret to their surviving and thriving.

  11. I love that you are testing all of these for us. Great synopsis of the echinaceas.

  12. Wow! What a variety! I do love every single one you present here Jodi! I would love to change the Mac and Cheese name... but what a looker. I will be interested to see how the pow wow... holds over the winter too. Lovely post.

  13. Beautiful bunch of coneflowers Jodi. I especially love Green Jewel and Green Envy. I just purchased Magnus and Pink Poodle. I always wanted Razzamatazz but couldn't find it anywhere but now that I have Pink Poodle I'm so happy and excited I could just burst so guess I'll live without Razzamatazz. Ahhhhh you say I should cut off all of her gorgeous blooms before planting huh? And Magnus's monster blooms too? I'll try to be brave if it will make it a better flower. ;-)

  14. Jodi girl how are ya !(a bit brighter I hope) : )
    I love seeing all of these cone flowers and I have been guilty of losing track of mine as well .. why did I do that ! ..
    Secret Passion and Pow Wow Berry (yup .. who the heck thinks up these names?) .. are on my list now .. every year there is at least one echinacea on my have to have list.
    I found Flame Thrower really beautiful for a first year .. and Tiki Torch had fallen behind a little so I thought I should cut out the flowers and let the root really feel at home.
    I can't imagine having a garden without some of these beauties can you ? it just wouldn't be a garden ! .. Ah yes .. Harvest Moon would be perfect soon ! hehehe
    Silly Joy : )

  15. Hi Jodi,I started the post with pen and paper to write down my favorite, but I like them all. I only have pink and one yellow/orange that I bought this summer. Next spring you know what I will be looking for, Echinaceas. Thank you so much for all the information. Take care.

  16. Jodi: That is quite a collection of cone flowers! I have never seen so many varieties before, now I think I need to get some for my own garden! I love every single one of them, and I DO love the double layered flowers, call me shallow! LOL

  17. Hi Jodie: They are just so delicious that I want one of every kind but I know someone is going to ask me; are the birds or insects attracted to them? Or do I just say "Who Cares".

  18. Yes, they are very attractive to bees and other pollinators (butterflies, etc). I don't know if the doubles are as popular as the singles, though. I must sit outside during a busy bee period and see what they're up to.

  19. Spectacular parade, jodi ... I love them all and see many favorites that once graced my garden :( But kudos to you and your colorful 'Echinacea' thumb! (I have not given up on these beauties!)

  20. The Green Envy variety was on store shelves for about 1.5 days according to the nursery. Next year I am going to have to actually order one, I'm thinking.

  21. Harvest moon is nice. I'm in need of an orange coneflower. That papaya is hot!

  22. Great photos of a wonderful collection, Jodi. Beside the standard purple coneflower I have green envy - stays more contained, nicer foliage, long bloom time than their common cousin - and white swan (I think) which is a smaller plant overall and sports lovely, fresh blossoms. They all shine during hot, hot summer temps and bloom from July through September in southern CT. And, goldfinch love them all.

  23. I love echinacea and have been collecting different varieties, but you have so many I just want to run out and plant more. I put White Swan in the garden this year and really like it, and think it is a beautiful contrast with the multicolored echinacea. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures.

  24. Such a lovely post. I took notes to add a few of those beauties to my garden next year. Tangerine Dream and Green Envy were my favorites! Thank you, I can hardly wait!

  25. What a great review of all the coneflowers, Jodi! You've included some I've never heard of before. I've seen some plantings of 'Coconut Lime' this summer and hope to add this to my garden next year; 'Papaya,' though, is still the most striking coneflower I've seen--definitely on my want list.

    I am one of those gardeners who is also attracted by names; no matter how pretty 'Mac 'n Cheese' and 'Tomato Soup' are, I'm just not into them--you'd think they could have come up with better names:)

    Lucky you to have coneflowers in August!

  26. Thank you Jodi for these great pictures, and for the details of each variety. You've given me some ideas for the variety that will be happy in my somewhat shady west coast garden.

  27. Hi Jodi, I remember when I was excited to get 'Magnus' and 'White Swan.' Sheesh. Ha, ha. These guys must be extremely easy to cross which is the only way to explain the explosion of colors and forms.

    Very, very nice!!

  28. Echinaceas are my favorites of all favorites. I adore the many cultivars you have shown. It's good to know someone else likes them as much as I do. Thanks for sharing. Kaaren

  29. I searched on echinaceas and found your blog. The only ones I have are 'Magnus' and Green Envy'. But You write so interesting about them and post so very lovely photos so I'll visit some nurseries trying to find more.....

  30. I have to confess that I'm a bit of a purist - I usually plant just the native originals rather than cultivars. But somehow I really enjoy looking at cultivars in other people's gardens. Go figure! You have a nice collection here - I didn't know there were so many available.

    Is there a difference in which ones are most attractive to the birds, bees, and butterflies?


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