It was planted about four years ago in the sloping side yard garden and did not do much. Oh sure, it reliably appeared each year, was not high maintenance, and put up a couple of flowers in the summer - nothing special, until this year.
Echinops is derived from the latin word for hedgehog, due to the appearance of the flower. As part of the aster family, the 'globe thistle' is comfortable in coarse poor soil conditions, and tolerates drought and low water environments. All internet sources recommend good drainage. Well, I guess I have those conditions covered with the side yard slope and soils only partially improved.
It is native to Eurasia, but lives on other continents, especially as a weed. It was given an award of merit by the Royal Horticultural Society for outstanding excellence. I wonder if weeds are nominated as a joke.
Everywhere states it is attractive to bees and butterflies. No kidding; I can't keep them off - even for a photo. There are always bumbles on my plant.
This year, my echinops did very well, producing several 2-inch diameter flower balls (50 cm) resembling some alien virus. But, the 4-foot high plant (1.2 m) is now being crowded out by the ever-expanding waistline of a nandina. It may be time to move to the other side of the garden against the house where I am grouping plants that need some winter protection, and plants that are fine with drier and poorer soils (herbs and the like.)
For The Record:
Clay soil with organic amendments being added
Small amount of fertilizer in spring
No serious pests/disease
Blooming: cosmos, mexican zinnia, zinnia, agastache, echinacea, sunflower, nicotiana, cleome, marigold,
phlox, hosta, buddleia, cardoon, rudbeckia
Harvested: 2 peppers, 4 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 5 onions