I know it’s not much of a plant at this stage, more of a box really, but inside is a bit of the horticultural future…..apparently! We are all familiar with Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ and R. var. ‘Deamii’ and have probably had a brush with the larger flowered and more colourful annual Rudbeckia hirta in the form of ‘Marmalade’ or ‘Green Eyes’ or similar. We are also probably all familiar with Echinacea purpurea and have discovered that only the species is truly hardy; the myriad cultivars I have been suckered into buying have been hopeless and die in their first winter…too wet in the UK. They need long, dry, cold winters as they get in the mid western United States to survive. My friend Rob Cole at Meadow Farm Nursery is selecting open pollinated variants and testing them for the factors required in a British garden worthy plant and is pretty close to releasing a couple on the market but, in the meantime, the Echibeckia has been introduced from the United States to satisfy our desire for a hardy, early and long flowering perennial that is hardy and disease resistant. As the name implies, it is an intergeneric cross between Rudbeckia hirta and Echinacea purpurea. So what’s in the box????????
However, we are going to have to wait until next summer to find out a) has it survived and b) was it worth it!