Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A sweet coneflower

This is Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers,' otherwise known as sweet coneflower, and it's a great example of a plant you read about but don't fully appreciate till you see it in the flesh. I found it at Chanticleer, in Wayne, in the cutting garden, I believe, but it was two weeks ago and the memory is fading. I've either not seen it since it came on the market in 2003 or didn't pay attention, but it's definitely on the radar now. You can tell it's related to the black-eyed Susan, and we all like that one well enough. But it's different - five feet tall or so with quill-shaped, rolled petals, giving it a spare, bright-eyed, pinwheel look. It apparently was named for the nurseryman and prairie restoration specialist who came upon it along a streambed in Illinois and gets its common name - sweet coneflower - from the slight vanilla scent it occasionally gives off. I didn't think to smell it. But it's definitely like the name says. Sweet.

A sweet coneflower

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)
Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

This is Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers,' otherwise known as sweet coneflower, and it's a great example of a plant you read about but don't fully appreciate till you see it in the flesh. I found it at Chanticleer, in Wayne, in the cutting garden, I believe, but it was two weeks ago and the memory is fading. I've either not seen it since it came on the market in 2003 or didn't pay attention, but it's definitely on the radar now. You can tell it's related to the black-eyed Susan, and we all like that one well enough. But it's different - five feet tall or so with quill-shaped, rolled petals, giving it a spare, bright-eyed, pinwheel look. It apparently was named for the nurseryman and prairie restoration specialist who came upon it along a streambed in Illinois and gets its common name - sweet coneflower - from the slight vanilla scent it occasionally gives off. I didn't think to smell it. But it's definitely like the name says. Sweet.

About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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