Echinacea ‘Milkshake’ – a love story

Sep 16, 2016 | Gardens

Imagine: Her New Year’s resolution was to make her perennial garden be easier to care for. Of course some weeding and mulching would always be needed, but this season she was determined to get rid of all the high-maintenance plants. That Siberian Iris that bloomed for ten minutes but was empty enough in the middle of the clump that weeds always took root? Gone. Those fast-spreading evening primrose that were a “gift” from her neighbor? Ditto. Those tall asters that always blew over in a fall storm? History!

And sure enough, come spring she ripped out the plants she no longer wanted and replaced them with some Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ and Echinacea ‘Milkshake.’ Breathing a sigh of flower-scented relief, she knew she’d chosen well.

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I love perennials in the genus Echinacea, and there are many fantastic cultivars to choose from. But as I wander through my entry garden this fall I realize that the variety that has completely captured my heart is ‘Milkshake.’ These photos tell the story:

Here is my entry garden in July. You can see that the Echinacea Milkshake on the left is in full flower along with the daylilies.

Here is my entry garden in July. You can see that the Echinacea Milkshake on the left is in full flower along with the daylilies.

Early in the summer this plant has a yellow center which gradually disappears as the blooms develop. Here's how the plant looked on August 1st.

Early in the summer this plant has a yellow center which gradually disappears as the blooms develop. Here’s how the plant looked on August 1st. Some of the flowers are still showing their yellow center while others have transformed into the puff of white.

Fast forward to mid-September. My 'Guava Ice' Echinacea is finished and has flopped. I will cut these back now, leaving only the base foliage. That will create a bare area in the garden for the rest of the fall.

Fast forward to mid-September. My ‘Guava Ice’ Echinacea is finished and has flopped. I will cut these back now, leaving only the base foliage. That will create a bare area in the garden for the rest of the fall.

The other variety of Echinacea I have in this front garden is 'Evan Saul' - aka Sundown. I love this in July when the flowers are a coral color, but it's less attractive as the blooms fade to pink. This plant is also flopping by early September, and it too will get cut back this week. Yes, I will plant some ornamental kale here to fill the garden through the rest of the fall. But often I have to stake these coneflowers as early as August, so it's not a very long lasting, maintenance free variety.

The other variety of Echinacea I have in this front garden is ‘Evan Saul’ – aka Sundown. I love this in July when the flowers are a coral color, but it’s less attractive as the blooms fade to pink. This plant is also flopping by early September, and it too will get cut back this week. Yes, I will plant some ornamental kale here to fill the garden through the rest of the fall. But often I have to stake these coneflowers as early as August, so it’s not a very long lasting, maintenance free variety.

But here is 'Milkshake' in mid-September. Upright, clean, and still very attractive. No staking...just occasional light deadheading as a flower goes by.

But here is ‘Milkshake’ in mid-September. Upright, clean, and still very attractive. No staking…just occasional light deadheading as a flower goes by. Here in combination with a Vitex (upper left), Caster Bean (annual, upper right), Sedona Coleus (background, right), Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ (lower right), Nepeta ‘Walkers Low) (bottom center and left) and a Deep Apricot Profusion Zinnia.

4 Comments

  1. Debby Gunschel

    Dear CL,,
    When your Mom died, I saved the obituary you wrote &, printed it and my husband asked why. I told him that the way you wrote it, I found to be fascinating.. It was different, I wrote my Dad’s obituary and since then have been interested in reading them.. We saw ‘chronicle’ last night, I was getting supper ready and Fred called me to the TV. So amazing… How things like this can change one’s life and I could relate even more to your Mom’s obit. I didn’t know if you wanted to speak on the radio and my email is not working, so wanted you to know “Chronicle” was extremely special last night.
    Sincerely, Debby & Fred My e-mail is not working, but Fred is.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Thanks Debby. It’s nice to know that so many people are with me in all aspects of life.

      Reply
  2. Anne Firth

    I also saw chronicles the other night. How amazing that you and Lynn have this in common. Best of luck getting more info. Looks like I need to try echinacea milkshake!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Anne,
      Thanks – yes, it was pretty amazing that we’ve never known we had this in common! Milkshake is a great homeowners perennial – long lasting, upright, sturdy and pretty for three months!

      Reply

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