Is there any flower more evocative of the American prairie than the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)? I grew this indispensable plant back when I lived in Nebraska and, to be honest, have never seen it grow as well as it does there. This plant was made for those conditions - long, cold, brutal winters and blazingly hot, humid summers. Here, in the PNW, they are certainly happy enough, but never seem as vigorous as they did back home...perhaps this is a plant that needs a little adversity to really do its best.
My Echinacea of choice for the past few years has been 'Magnus', which is about as close to the species as you can get (barring growing some from seed). However, my garden these days is on a slope...and 4' flowers that are 2' up the slope results in me looking at knobby Echinacea knees and wondering what the flowers look like from above :-(
'Prairie Splendor' works well with everything, blues and deeper purples seem to enhance it's warm pinks while warmer colors bring out the luminescent orange of the cone. I honestly can't imagine a garden without it...it harmonizes with everything and gives the garden a welcoming, cottagey feel. Perhaps it's the somewhat un-subtle color combination, perhaps it's the honesty simplicity of its form...totally without pretension. No one should ever feel intimidated by Echinacea!
So there you have it...Echinacea 'Prairie Splendor'. It's a smaller, long-blooming new hybrid of the rugged species. If you want that classic form and color, but don't have the space, give this one a try...you won't be disappointed. How about all of you out there...do you have/lust after any particular Echinacea?