Have you ever wanted a plant really bad and then were left feeling let down once you bought said plant for your garden? Echinacea purpurea 'Double Decker' also sold under 'Doppleganger' is a garden 'mutant' first discovered by German plant breeder Eugen Schleipfer. It is said that he found an unusal Purple Coneflower and spent many years selecting for the unusual flower we have now.
I purchased mine two years ago at a local Home Depot garden center and that should have been a big enough red flag. The Home Depot is good for a lot of things but specialty plants for the garden, IMO, is not one of them. After having seen many beautiful photos of the 'Double Decker' flower on the internet and plant catalogs I was eager to add this weird plant to my garden and when I found them for $5.00 I couldn't pass them up.
When I purchased this perennial it was about ready to bloom and after it was planted it bloomed within a few days. The problem was that the flowers looked nothing like the photo on the container nor did it look much like the photos of this coneflower I'd see on the internet. The petals of the top tier were not neat and fully formed like the lower tier of petals. They were all contorted and growing from random spots among the cone instead of in the hat-like pattern on the second tier this plant is prized for.
I should know better than to buy "special" plants from a big box garden center but I couldn't help myself. When the plant bloomed and didn't live up to my expectations I was disheartened and a little embarrassed that I wasted money on it. My embarrassment was so great that last year rather than look at the sloppy blooms I snipped them as they opened as if to hide the evidence of my lapse in (plant buying) judgment. By the fall my embarrassment had turned to anger and while doing garden clean up I tore the two clumps up and tossed them on the compost pile.
A couple of weeks ago while getting the mail I noticed this little bloom among the normal coneflowers in the garden. A small piece of one of the clumps I tore out is blooming closer it is suppose to look like. Years after Eugen Schleipfer this plant still needs selecting depending on where you buy it from. Maybe in a few decades of further selecting for the weird characteristics I'll finally have a plant that looks like the plant I wanted to buy.
When I collect Purple Coneflower seeds.
Removing coneflower seeds.
Identifying coneflower seeds.