While considered, no decision has been made whether the purple (pink-purple, my wife tells me) flowered coneflower seedling will be permitted to remain, intertwined as it is with ‘Pow Wow White’ (Echinacea purpurea ‘Pow Wow White’), though I lean towards doing nothing (as usual). The white coneflower seems vigorous enough to stand the competition, and into its second year the combination shows no signs of decline.
I should not suppose that it is common knowledge that seedlings often do not replicate parent plants, and here is clear evidence. The white coneflower is a variation of the typically purple flowered Echinacea, and while a seedling of ‘Pow Wow White’ might occasionally be white, most will be purple. I’ve seen purple flowered seedlings from the red flowered coneflower ‘Tomato Soup’, which unfortunately faded and disappeared along with seedlings as the garden became shadier. A second white coneflower, ‘Coconut Lime’, pokes out from beneath a gold needled cypress so that seeds fall onto a stone patio, where they fail to germinate. Other purple flowered seedlings have popped up in spots where they are welcomed.
The combined white and purple flowers look slightly unnatural, somewhat similar to the horticultural havoc created when dissimilar stems are grafted onto a single tree. I’m not above such things. In fact, I’ve espaliered a three-in-one apple to the wall of the garden shed, regardless that such certain-to-pollinate combinations seem a crime against the randomness of nature. The coneflower combination though, is a perfectly natural combination that could, and probably does occur somewhere in the wild.
I’m very much in favor of plants that spread from seed, or in the case of ferns, from spores. So long, that is, that seedlings are not inclined to take over, and I suppose there have been a few of these through the years. But, most seedlings are easily controlled, and several have spread into spots where I couldn’t have chosen a better plant. And, they’re free.
I do dread the annual invasion of seedlings from red maples from the forest that borders the garden, but the only other real nuisance seedlings in the garden are from the Golden Rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata, below). I can’t figure how the seeds are spread so far through the garden. I’m certain that thousands are plucked every year, with most in close proximity to the tree, but others on the far side of the house. I can live with any number of coneflower seedlings, but the Rain tree is just a weed.