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My South: E is for Echinacea

June 23rd, 2014 · 1 Comment

Not long after I purchased my cozy little bungalow many years ago, I “hired” the younger sister of one of my employees to try her hand at landscaping the back yard. She was studying landscape design and needed experience. I was her guinea pig, as people used to say. Her subject. And my bare yard and its border were her canvases [if you’ll allow me the mixed metaphor].

She did a fine job. Most of what she planted has gone now, but the hardscapes she placed there (a circular brick planter in the center of the patio, and a rustic stone border outlining the flower beds) remain. Her red canna lilies now poke their heads up through a compost heap; the lilac bush has grown gangly and threatening; the only evidence of her plantings in the patio planter are a cluster of fire-red tipped somethings that seem a cross between lilies and Birds of Paradise.

E_red flowering plant_RESIZED

But I miss the purple coneflowers. They are possibly my favorite flower.

E_purple coneflowers

This seems to be the most common form of Echinacea flower around these parts. Many of my neighbors have them growing in small or sometimes large clusters in their yards. They have a delicate beauty, but demonstrate a hardiness not often found in a flower: you can thump the rock-hard cone in the center of the bloom and actually hear an audible “thump.”

The Black-Eyed Susans (or Rudbeckias) growing in my next-door neighbors’ yard appear to be a coneflower variant. I thumped them in the cone, just to be sure.


I started the job myself, but am hopefully going to have some help this week clearing out most of what remains in those beds. The crape myrtle bushes that I planted years ago will remain, but the plan is to till everything else up for a fresh start.

And – guaranteed – the new garden will definitely include some thumpable Echinacea.

Tags: My South: A to Z

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Jul 6, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    If you take the dried cones of the purple coneflowers in your neighbour’s yard and stick them upside down in your garden soil, you’ll have clumps of the plants coming up in the spring. Or maybe sooner, since you don’t get frost where you are. You could always stick the seed heads in your fridge for a while–maybe two or three months–to simulate a cold spell, and then plant them. Cold stratification in the fridge will greatly improve their germination. Or of course you could just buy some plants…

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