This year, the most common question I have received is how to tell apart our globe thistles. Hopefully this blooming blog post will clear things up and make you an expert the next time you visit.
In case you do not know what I'm talking about, I'll fill you in. Near our Rainbird sculpture on the the Floral Walk and entrance to the Fragrance Garden are 3 different colors of Echinops; two on the east side and one on the west side of the path.
First, on the east side of the path, we have just the straight species Echinops ritro. It has a light blue, spiky inflorescence.
Globe Thistle Echinops ritro
Next, on the west side of the path, we have Echinops 'Arctic Glow'. It looks very similar to the straight species but it is about 1/2 to 2/3 its height and its inflorescence is a very pale blue to white.
Arctic Glow Globe Thistle Echinops 'Arctic Glow'
Finally, on the east side of the path again, we have Echinops bannaticus 'Blue Glow'. This one is about the same height as the straight species, maybe slightly taller with very deep blue to purple flowers.
Blue Glow Globe Thistle Echinops bannaticus 'Blue Glow'
Globe thistles make great cut or dried flowers. They add great interest to any garden and are magnets for many species of bees.