I'd heard of echinacea as a means to improve your immune system, and I knew it was an herb or plant of some sort, but never bothered to investigate. Then I invited my friend Bonnie to go with me on a bus tour to Chicago Botanic Gardens, back in the summer of 2004.
I didn't know a whole lot about flowers at that time, and Bonnie shared her knowledge as we walked through the gardens. We came to a purple coneflower, which I learned was the same thing as echinacea, and she said, "Touch it." It looked really soft in the middle, but I was surprised at how firm it was! It felt like plastic. Cool.
We took the little tour that was offered and the docent drove us through all parts of the gardens and told us interesting tidbits of information about the gardens, the flowers growing there, and the ongoing plant research conducted in the gardens. I remember being told that an orange coneflower was in production and that it had never been grown anywhere else. It was to be called 'Orange Meadowbrite™' and would be the first in a series of Meadowbrite™ echinaceas that would be developed at CBG.
I now have this coneflower as well as 'Mango Meadowbrite™' in my garden and they're among my favorites. I've got several other echinaceas and I've always got my eyes open for possible new additions for the garden.
A portion of the sale of this echinacea goes to the
Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research.
I have these labeled correctly in my garden, but failed to take note of which I'd photographed in what order. They very similar and I can't tell the difference between them.
Tennessee Coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis)
I have native coneflowers, as well as 'Magnus' and 'Sparkler.' The latter has variegated foliage and I found that it doesn't tolerate full sun as well. I've got it placed in part shade now and it's doing much better.
There's space reserved for 'Green Envy' whenever I manage to find it in one of our local garden centers.
TRIVIA: The word "echinacea" comes from the Greek word "echinos," which means "hedgehog," and refers to the flower's spiky central cone.