There are no other flowering plants that have been captured in pixels in the Fairegarden filing system with dates ranging from June to December besides Asters. This large plant family includes many garden worthy species, including our earliest bloomer of the lot, the New England Asters, Symphyotrichum novae angliae. We have blueish purple and pinky purple of these, ordered as seedlings from Seed Savers Exchange years ago. They have seeded all over and been moved to prime locations to take advantage of their color and form.
New this year is a very special plant named for our friend Ruth who owns Mouse Creek Nursery, a local treasure. Click to read the latest post about ithere-OOTS-Mouse Creek. Heterotheca camporum ‘Ruth Baumgardner’ is brilliant yellow and much favored by pollinators. It can be a bit floppy but will happily weave and bob with Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’.
Next up is Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’, research seems to indicate this one is still an aster for some reason. This sterile aster was added to the daylily hill in an attempt to add interest after the daylilies are finished blooming. We assumed that there would be babies galore, like all the other of this clan, wrongly it seems. But another has been added in hopes of a mass of blue to extend the interest there.
In an effort to add blue asters to our sea of native white ones, several species came to live in the gardens here, including S. laeve ‘Bluebird’. Blooming ealier than most, this is one of the strongest stemmed of the clan. It has been divided and spread in an effort to add color during the transition from summer to fall.
Here is where the name tags got mixed up and these blue asters are so similar that I cannot tell them apart. S. oblongifolium ‘October Skies’ and the Tennessee aster, Aster paludosus ssp. hemisphericus were both ordered from the native plant nursery Sunlight Gardens, three plants of each. They were planted willy nilly, one here one there, using the methodology known as plopping. This year the effort was made to plant the customary threesomes very close together, for better impact, not to mention easier identification. One tag can easily get lost, three might have a fighting chance of being found. Both of these plants are good bloomers.
Much easier to know and name is this passalong from kind Christopher, the blue wood aster, S. cordifolium. The emerging heart shaped leaves of the rosette in spring were a rich burgundy red, unlike the green narrow leaves of most of the other asters. It is tall and flowers over a long period in fall. We are hoping for babies of this one.
By October, the aster area is a beautiful patchwork quilt of blue and white blooms. Trying day after day to capture what the eye sees, we gave up, for this is a prime example of not only little leaf syndrome, but little flower syndrome as well. It was alive with happy buzzers.
In a close up then the full garden shot, October Skies shows what a good mixer he is with the pinkish sheffies that bloom at the same time. Two nice specimens were purchased in bloom at Mouse Creek to grace the gravel path that leads from the driveway to the back gardens.
We saved the best for last. Three Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ pots came home with us on yet another trip out to Mouse Creek. We literally had to pick dozens of sleeping bumbles off the plants, not because I don’t like them, but didn’t want to get stung when they awoke to find themselves in the rear of the gas guzzler and had panic attacks. Butterflies were scarce in the Fairegarden this year, sad to say, but once these asters were planted, a monarch was seen nectaring within the hour.
Painted Ladies, honeybees, bumble bees and various other flying insects covered the new plantings. The lavender petals lasted well into late fall, bringing a smile whenever that pathway was taken. A chair was situated under the garage deck to simply sit and watch and enjoy the show. Good friend Gail also had given us a passalong Aster tataricus, not yet blooming size but planted in the same area with good intentions. It might be the gigantic species or it might be little Jindai, but it is welcome either way.
That brings us to the end, or the beginning depending on your perspective. The stalks are still standing, offering winter interest and hopes of seeding from the wind, snow, sleet, rain and critters to spread the word, or make that spread the love that the asters bring to the pollinator population.