Picking my favourite varieties in the 2017 Echinacea Plant Trial
As part of my recent visit to RHS Wisley, I made a point of visiting the Plant Trial Beds. These are where the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) plants are trialled and awarded the highest horticultural accolade. This year I was pleased to see the Zinnia and Echinacea trials in full bloom.
The trial is in its second year of three and, for me, there were some clear winners in the patch. I didn’t have any Echinacea in my garden when I visited Wisley but I soon corrected that by buying ‘Magnus Superb’.
If you want to find out more about the current plant trials happening at Wisley then follow this link to the PDF.
Traditional pink Echinacea
When I think of Echinacea the first thing that comes to mind is tall, pinky purple, daisy-like flowers held high amongst a mixed grass border. Their rich, deep pinks are complemented by the central cone that often has burnt-orange tints.
For this reason, my favourite selection has to be ‘Fatal Attraction’ – apparently bred by Piet Oudolf – and has a real quality of colour with strong dark stems. The Sombrero Baja Burgundy (possibly a breeding label rather than its eventual commercial name) had petals that were much closer to a cherry-red. ‘Pink Shimmer’ seemed to glow and really stood out amongst the rest.
White Echinacea varieties
I like the white versions too. They can bring a lighter feel to a border and are a little more restful to look at.
‘Green Jewel’ was white/acid green on the petals and stood tall. ‘White Meditation was a much more compact bush and would suit the front of a border or a pot. The species variant ‘alba’ has relaxed reflexed petals.
Double Echinacea varieties
I’ve never grown the double echinacea varieties and at first glance, they’re a little off-putting. The more you stare the better they get and I think I could get used to them.
‘Catharina Red’ and ‘Elegance’ were the least fussy of the varieties on offer.
For something different
I really liked ‘Tiki Torch’ and it is my second favourite variety on trial. The orange is rich and could easily be mixed in a border with yellows and purples and the plants looked healthy.
These nine varieties are my favourite of all the types on trial. Some of the plants don’t have commercial names yet so are very new. It’s hard to know how well they will perform in a garden setting and how much hardiness and longevity they can muster. A lot of the varieties, particularly those most often flaunted in catalogues as being a colour break, were a disappointing, almost muddy, set of colours. Many had few blooming stems or had flopped untidily.