Why you should plant it:
Many of the cultivated varieties of our native coneflower are bad fizzles, but this form fulfills all it promises: intense concentration of colour on exquisite silky petals around a gorgeous bronzed-orange cone. It's also a magnet for bees and butterflies and won't spread all over the garden.
Where to plant it:
Species coneflowers can live in almost any kind of inhospitable soil. I have even seen them grow in solid clay. But this one needs a bit more TLC, including lots of humus in well-drained soil and regular watering until it's established. Once that happens, it will be drought-tolerant (which doesn't mean that it needs no water, just not a lot of water). And while its habit is compact and the stalks are sturdy, it does need lots of sun.
What it offers:
A really rich hit of midsummer colour that lasts for weeks and weeks. If you deadhead them, these plants will shine and keep on coming back. We need them because we need to attract beneficial bees and butterflies into the garden. If you can't get your hands on this variety, try any others you can find. You have to be careful with the species if you have a small garden, as they will travel. This one is a 60-centimetre clumping form but will stay within its confines.
Source and cost:
Try any well-stocked or rural nursery, such as Mason House Gardens (www.masonhousegardens.ca) in Uxbridge, Ont., where it goes for $12.Visit www.marjorieharris.com for more gardening and plant information.