August 25, 2012
Echinacea 'Guava Ice' (Coneflower)
While I was looking for evergreen shrubs at the nursery this week, my eyes were drawn to this new coneflower, 'Guava Ice'. Although I always say that I don't like orange, somehow this rosy-orange color keeps pulling me in. So I picked up a couple and added them to the west flagstone bed, which had rosy-orange flowers earlier in the season in the form of a 'Lady Emma Hamilton' english rose and 'Royal Sunset' lilies.
These photos show the progression of a bloom. Because I took them in the evening when this part of the garden was already in shade, the colors look cooler (more rose) than they would in warm light (which would bring out the orange tones).
This coneflower is newly available in 2012, and it grows 24-30 inches tall and 2-3 feet wide. Like other coneflowers, it prefers well-drained soil in full sun and is drought tolerant once established. It's hardy in zones 5-9 - possibly even zone 4 - so it should survive Spokane winters without a problem.
The flowers are very large - four inches or so once fully formed. The leaves are a beautiful dark green, though I wonder if they'll lighten up after growing in my hot garden instead of in a nursery.
This photo does a good job of showing the warmer and cooler colors that can be found on each plant as the blooms age. A few weeks ago I almost bought some 'Hot Papya' coneflowers for this part of my garden, but their fiery red-orange color was a little too intense. I'm so glad I waited to find these instead.
Sometimes I come home from the nursery with a plant that I bought even though I knew it wasn't a good fit for my garden. Sometimes plants just call to you, right? But these coneflowers are the perfect color and have the perfect temperament for the baking-hot western exposure where they're planted.
It will be fun to pick these and use them in arrangements. The color is nice with the lavender 'Walker's Low' catmints that are blooming nearby.
This final shot shows an older bloom that will soon fade and need to be deadheaded. Thankfully, coneflowers last a lot longer than daylilies before they need to be removed. I've put myself into a daylily addiction recovery program, and I'm pleased to report that I reduced the number of daylilies in this part of the garden from 27 to 14. Lots less deadheading, phew. I also removed six 'Jethro Tull' tickseeds (Coreopsis) that were reseeding like crazy, and planted five 'Wee Willie' boxwoods (Buxus) instead. Winter interest and lower maintenance, here I come!