Asters are true companions to autumn leaves. The low light and chilled mornings that make Hostas yellow and shrivel are a spring to asters.
“October Skies”, seen here in the worst and driest soil in this Bow garden, thrived in the equally awful dirt and inferno heat of Nashville. One plant from a 3.5 inch pot will spread three feet in two years, and not by seed. Its blue flowers are very complimentary to the ever present granite.
A quiet little plant that likes a rock garden is the Wavy Leaved aster, that grows in yards and ditches and all around the Town Pound in Bow. It resembles the Heart Leaved aster, but is smaller and less blowsy.
I see the Heart leaved aster not only along the roads and fields, but in the yards and gardens of Concord’s neighborhoods. Each stem is a bouquet in itself.
The New England asters are blooming now as well. Below is “Purple Dome”, a smaller, more modern cultivar . The field plants are larger. They can be ungainly in good soil, and their faces can end up in the dirt. Their lower leaves brown as well, and are ugly unless hidden by a small shrub or a shorter camouflage perennial such as the Clara Curtis chrysanthemum or the Montauk Daisy. I saw the species in bloom this year at a local wildlife center. It was trussed up to a bamboo stake, looking like a Salem witch about to be burned. No wonder that the online nurseries and local garden centers avoid selling anything beyond the short cultivars. I did put the tall variety “Harrington’s Pink” in the Bow garden this summer. I bought six plants from Digging Dog nursery in California because I could not find it anywhere else. The cost of shipping was greater than the cost of the plants.
Another excellent aster from the wood edges is the White Wood Aster- aster divarticus. It is not large or flamboyant, but it blooms from early August to mid October. It spreads by shoots and runners and makes colonies.
Finding flowers that will grow on woodland edges, in shade and in pebbled soil can be hard, and that is why local nurseries should offer this tough little aster.
For the gardener who is looking for an aster that does not flop, or spread around, and which can tolerate drier soil and some shade, there is Aster laevis, the smooth aster. Its cultivar “Bluebird” is a “Plant of Merit” according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, which has an excellent website. It is a wonderful plant, and is one of the best perennials I have grown. Its only flaw is that it blooms for under three weeks, perhaps because it comes on while days are still very warm. Its foliage, always a consideration, is exemplary. And it is easily rooted by cuttings, which bloom when they are only three inches tall.
Thus ends this post, but in my next I will talk about some of the other local asters I have found, and which ones might do well in the garden.
A final few photos taken yesterday, before the rains and the wind , out at Stone Sled Farm.