Here come the plant police
Coleus and kale look good together

Just too ugly to grow

Echinacea,coneflower,Doubledecker,ugly. Image © (all rights reserved) Some plants are just so ugly that you want to chop their heads off.

Look at this echinacea. What a mess! Such an ugly tangle of petals it disgraces the name coneflower. It’s the perversion of simplicity that so often make me want to reach for the shears. We all know the simple and elegant daisy shape of Echinacea purpurea, the purple coneflower. And this is what is said to be an improvement.

To be fair, Echinacea purpurea ‘Doubledecker’ (left, click to enlarge) is not supposed to Echinacea,coneflower,Doubledecker,ugly. Image ©Perennial Resource, (all rights reserved)be like this. It’s supposed to be like this (right, click to enlarge) – which I have to say is  not much better - but in all the years I’ve been growing it these horrid messy tangles have dominated ten to one.

Then there’s daffodils ('Jersey Torch', in case you want to avoid them). Isn’t this a Narcissus,daffodil,Jersey Torch,ugly. Image © (all rights reserved)horror? (left, click to enlarge – if you dare). Takes all the elegance away. You’ll never see these “Tossing their heads in sprightly dance,” as  William Wordsworth put it, as he “wandered lonely as a cloud”. The heads are so heavy with all those extra mangled petals that they’re more likely to simply hit the ground when it rains and never stand up. These don’t “flash upon that inward eye, Which is the bliss of solitude” – they make we want to reach for a long cane so I can swish their heads off.

And then... just today… This hibiscus opened in the garden, Hibiscus Sugar Tip (‘America Irene Scott’), a variegated sport of the popular ‘Lady Stanley’. Its neatly edged foliage is quite Hibiscus,Sugar Tip,America Irene Scott. Image © (all rights reserved) attractive and I was looking forward to a single rose pink flower, perhaps. Instead of which we get this pasty mess like a wrung out dish cloth. Well, now I’ve taken its picture I can cut the flowers off.

But don’t think I hate double flowers. There are some lovely double echinaceas and even at least one double daffodil that I’ve grown and enjoyed.

But these are just too much. Off with their heads!


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James Golden

Echinacea 'Razz-ma-Taz'. Another Echinacea I love to hate.

Graham Rice

I don't mind it so much ( - except that it keeps falling over as the heads are so heavy and the stems can't support them.


Crikey never seen these before! Yes agree - the simpler the better. In general I have to say I think nature knows best - and when we dabble too much it shows ;o)

Graham Rice

Not sure I agree that "dabbling" with nature is necessarily a bad thing. Step forward the humble contemporary cabbage - entirely different from wild cabbage. And I fully respect other people's right to admire those hideous double daffodils. They're just nuts!


I'm so with you regarding Echinacea.

I'm such a fan of the elegant, natural reflexed petals and the large central boss. It's hard to improve perfection.

Perhaps breeders should concentrate on developing stronger stalks to overcome the problem described in your comment above or an even longer bloom season.


Okay you convinced me. I thought the doubledecker looked intersting, and was planning on planting some this fall in an area I'm redoing. Never in a million years if it can look like the strange purple spikey puff you're showing. Yikes. Who would want that, and what another flower to stake? That just sounds like all work and no return.

Graham Rice

Well Rob, double echinaceas that have followed after 'Razzmatazz' - 'Pink Double Delight' was the first, now there are quite a few - tend to be shorter and have a stronger joint at the crown which helps prevent them toppling. And I'm so glad to have convinced Lisa not to grow 'Doubledecker' - what a horror!


'Pink Poodle', an off-spring of 'Doubledecker' also appears to be a dud, at least according to Tony Avent from Plant Delights Nursery.

I like some of the newer doubles as you've mentioned Graham. 'Hot Papaya' has been outstanding for me this summer.

Some flowers though were meant to remain single, at least IMO. ;) Double-flowered Lilies (Asiatic) are also relatively ugly.


One last word about that Hibiscus Sugar Tip: Besides the fact that the flowers are homely (a wrung-out dishrag is very apt, Graham), their pale pink color actually clashes dreadfully with the cream color in the foliage. Just altogether a mess.

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