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Echinacea purpurea 'Virgin' (White coneflower)

Why you should plant it

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Attractive to butterflies and other beneficial insects, coneflowers are hugely important plants in the overall environment and most gardens, even small ones, should have one or two. This virginal white cultivar is a more compact version of the native plant and will look fabulous tucked in with its rather leggy cousins. The bloom might not attract as many insects but it's a beauty nonetheless.

Where to plant it

Coneflowers are prairie plants, so you can throw anything at them: terrible soil, hot conditions; they still have to be watered in, though, until they're firmly entrenched. Coneflowers need fairly good drainage, but I've seen them grow in clay. And they must have sun. This smaller Zone 4 version grows to 50 by 50 centimetres and will keep blooming from now until the end of September.

What it offers

Its very glamorous pure white, which is hard to find in most plants, will be a knockout next to almost black sedums and other coneflowers. Plant purists won't like it (they'll probably think it too frilly), but Dutch landscaping great Piet Oudolf does, so pick your poison. It has a light scent and is hard to beat for size and ruggedness, too.

Source and cost

Find it at such well-stocked nurseries as Toronto's Fiesta Gardens ( for about $21 a plant.

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