There seems to be no drop in enthusiasm for echinaceas, as more new colours and new types arrive in nurseries and garden centres. But some gardeners have become wary of the double flowered varieties.
It’s true that some of the first double-flowered echinaceas proved to be disappointing – either the flowers were not consistently double and sometimes broke into distorted shapes or the stems were not strong enough to support the heavy flowers. In some sad cases, varieties suffered from both problems.
Recent introductions are much improved and three new varieties in the Secret Series not only guarantee nothing but double flowers but are also a little shorter than earlier double-flowered varieties at about 75cm/30in in height. They also have better strength to support the double flower heads – which of course are heavier than single flowers, especially when they collect rain.
All have double flowers with a pronounced coloured cone surrounded by a ring of petals. The latest three varieties in this series to become available are ‘Secret Joy’ (above left, click to enlarge) in rich yllow fading to pale yellow, ‘Secret Lust’ (above centre, click to enlarge) with a reddish orange central cone and petals in pinker tones and ‘Secret Passion’ (above right, click to enlarge) with vivid pink cones and paler pink petals.
All are scented, all flower from July to October, all make good cut flowers and all require sun, fertile soil and good winter drainage; without good drainage most modern echinaceas may prove to be short-lived.
Plants of ‘Secret Joy’ are available from Simply Seeds and Plants
Plants of ‘Secret Lust’ are available from Simply Seeds and Plants and from Suttons
Plants of ‘Secret Passion’ are available from Simply Seeds and Plants and from Suttons