Sea Of Blues

The time is here for the blooming of the blues. Not the Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria’ shown with the honeyed coleus growing in the wheelbarrow planter though, although that color is exquisitely sublime. It is the fall blooming asters in hues of the sea and sky of which we speak. A couple of years ago it was decided that the foaming bubbles of white wild asters that pop up all over the property needed some indigo to help the eye to find a place to rest.

The blooming has begun in the Gravel Garden. The most polite of the blue asters is Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’.

This is no sprawling mass of stems like some of the others, but rather an upright, strait-laced lady of good breeding. Love her, er, it.

Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ is also well mannered, standing erect with large leaves of good substance.

Jindai’s species parent, Aster tataricus, a passalong from the Nashville garden of dear friend Gail, has much the same habit, only much taller. The ladder is hiding behind the shed, so you, dear readers, will have to settle for a shot of the underpetals by a height challenged photog.

By far the most floriferous if somewhat unkempt is Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’.

This blue aster can be identified by the sheer volume of buds even before they open. It might need propping by a neighbor or metal structure to help keep the many blooms in view. We use both, finding shrub type roses to be very helpful to hold the wayward branches with thorny stems.

Here are the blue asters mentioned previously growing happily in the Gravel Bed tall back border. Grasses, white flowered asters and wild goldenrod, among others join the scene. It is impossible to take a photo of this bed that gives a realistic idea of how lovely it truly is to the eyes of the human gardener, so labels have been added to help. The names are to the left of each species except October Skies whose name is under the blooming blue blob. The blues are recognized more clearly with a human lens. I thought about drawing a circle around each bouquet to help them stand out, but maybe squinting is better. Or a vivid imagination.

This is just the beginning of fall blues. They should remain in bloom until frost, offering nectar for visiting pollinators including many butterflies. October Skies was chosen to join the pink Muhly grass that is just beginning to open by the driveway. If the unopened as yet buds are any indication, it should be a very big show.

And for no reason at all other than it is the only Dahlia to return after an especially wet and harsh winter, and only just now blooming, may we present D. ‘Gallery Cobra’.


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24 Responses to Sea Of Blues

  1. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, The October Skies and Aster tataricus look absolutely delightful in your garden…A sea and sky full of blue is a perfect image. Once the wild asters open~wowzer! This is my favorite time of year in the garden; it’s cooling down, the bees are everywhere and then the monarchs stop by to visit. Thank you for the shoutout; I was glad to share! xxxooo gail

    Dear Gail, thank you again for that wonderful tall aster. This is its third year in the ground since it came to southeast Tennessee and the first year for blooming. I love looking up at the purple petticoats from below! And….it is raining!

  2. Carol says:

    I have some newly planted ‘October Skies’ by my front walk. It is just beginning to bloom and is going to put on quite the show. I cut it back in late May to keep it in check and to increase the number of buds. It really is going to be spectacular! I think, though, that I also need ‘Bluebird’ in my garden, if it is hardy, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be!

    Hi Carol, that is fabulous about the addition of October Skies to your garden! It will certainly add a punch of that sweet color in the fall. I love that it will grow in our diverse climates! Bluebird is not often seen at the nurseries, mine came from Asheville’s B. B. Barnes. I have tried to divide it several times but the divisions never took hold, sad to say. That makes the mother plant that much more precious. πŸ™‚

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    While I think your blues are beautiful as they try to bring the sky closer to your garden that dahlia looks like a watercolor painting to me. Have a great week.

    Oh what a delightful metaphor, Lisa, thanks! The one dahlia plant is making a brave effort before fall arrives. Of all the ones to return, that is certainly a good one. You too have a great week, with just enough rain to make you and the garden happy. πŸ™‚

  4. Beautiful.

    I have a view which try as I might I can’t do it justice through a camera lens.

    I’m just loving those Asters!

    Hi Rob, thanks so much. Aster time is a glorious time here. The leaves begin turning, the muhly blooms and the butterflies are abundant if it stays warm. I will never get a decent shot of that aster planting, it is either too sunny or too dark, never just right. Macros, yes, long shots, no.

  5. patandhenry says:

    Frances – I’m having trouble choosing among these asters, but the post is so inspiring as I realize I have only a single blue aster and even that is not planted where it can be properly appreciated. You are sending me right to the nursery catalog as I begin making my list for next spring’s purchases.

    Hi P and H, thanks so much, you are very kind. The blue asters are wonderful. There are more yet to bloom and be featured as well. Bluebird is wonderful, but October Skies gives the bigger bang for the buck, but all are wonderful! πŸ™‚

  6. I am beginning to think there is an Aster-lovers’ conspiracy, that somehow you have got to hear that I am not a fan and are determined to make me see the error of my ways – I surrender! πŸ˜‰ I am now actively researching which one to get as my very first… But I have to agree with Greenbow, the Dahlia is stunning and I am so glad you included it.

    Hi Janet, thanks for joining in! I felt the same way, thinking of the asters as a bunch of roadside weeds! Now I know better and am happy that the newer acquisitions have settled in nicely. Have fun choosing who gets to live in your garden! The dahlia was a pleasant surprise, I thought they all had perished when no foliage emerged. This one plant began showing in August. Better late than never! πŸ™‚

  7. Dave says:

    The asters are great – definitely need to add more. Ours seemed to bloom a little too early this year.

    Hi Dave, thanks. The New England asters bloom very early here, in June and then again in August. I like these later ones, especially Jindai since it will spread and stands up straight, not to mention how much the monarchs love it. πŸ™‚

  8. Eileen says:

    I do have Purple Dome Aster because it does stay upright. I have tried other asters, pinching, etc. I have two types of Boltonia, a relative, but have given up on the regular asters because of the floppiness. I will look for some of your varieties because I really do like their look in the fall garden.


    Hi Eileen, thanks. I love Purple Dome, need to add it whenever it gets spied at a nursery. I recommend Jindai and Bluebird for standingupedness! πŸ™‚

  9. Love the dahlia… I can’t quite believe the usually overwinter for you. Mine vanish into mush every winter if I don’t dig them, never to return again.

    Hi Joseph, thanks. Usually is not the word, more like occasionally, with the seed grown Bishop’s Children the hardiest. Not a single one of those returned this year. New seedlings are in the raised box which has excellent drainage, which I believe is more the issue than temp here.

  10. Valerie says:

    Lovely asters. I have the smooth aster in bloom here. Sorry have to go out and look at the tag for botanical name.

    Hi Valerie, thanks. I have just now learned the names of a few of the asters, and don’t even bother with the new non-aster monikers. I can barely keep up with the species and cultivar names on this group. There are so many and the flowers are similar. I am learning to ID them more by growth habit than anything else, and have lost the tags! πŸ™‚

  11. Lovely asters Frances. I love the tall A. tataricus. . . I will have to check on its hardiness. The right light will show more clearly the beauty of your gravel bed. The wispy feeling is so beautiful. ;>)

    Hi Carol, thanks. I hope the tall aster will work for your lovely space, the monarchs adore it! I believe the right light for this bed is in the spring. Unfortunately, the asters are sleeping then! HA πŸ™‚

  12. Perfect timing- I was going to the garden center today to fill gaps in my driveway garden with asters!

    Hi Jill, thanks, so nice to see you. I hope your garden center has some good hardy ones. Many do not return that are sold in the big box stores. Make that most of them do not return, like the mums, they are bred from less hardy stock for many blooms, like annuals. Look for Bluebird, Jindai, October Skies, Monck, but there are others too. How fun! πŸ™‚

  13. Joey says:

    What a pleasant surprise, Frances. Your orange dahlia shines in the sea of blue.

    Hi Joey, thanks. How about a sea of those dahlias, now that would be something! πŸ™‚

  14. gardeningasylum says:

    Dear Frances, Your asters are such sweeties, and I do think they must be female, so why not say she and hers? And what is this leaving dahlias in the ground – crazy talk up North – seriously, that is a lovely, lovely dahlia survivor.

    Hi Cyndy, thanks. I agree, they do seem female, except maybe Jindai, that is a masculine aster. lol I guess leaving the dahlias in the ground here is foolish, we are one zone too cold for that. But earlier success led us to order more dahlias, tempting fate. Gallery Cobra will be prized, whether it returns for another year or is never seen again. πŸ™‚

  15. Lola says:

    Love those asters. I must consider them in my garden next yr. Love that blue in the garden.

    Hi Lola, thanks. The blue asters have a lot to offer the fall garden. They have certainly spiced it up here. I am excited at the thought of October Skies with the Muhly grass. It could be great! πŸ™‚

  16. Jennifer says:

    Such beautiful blues! I love asters.I only have two plants in my garden but I definitely plan to add more.

    Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by. The blue asters deserve a place in the fall garden. And the pollinators love them! πŸ™‚

  17. Rose says:

    A lovely sea of blues, Frances, perfect to complement the blue skies of fall. I planted just one native aster (name unknown) last year, but they’ve turned into a puddle of asters this year, much to my delight. Unfortunately, the Aster tartaricus that Gail shared with me last fall may have been mistakenly identified as a weed and was pulled from the garden this summer:( Looking forward to the show of Muhly in your garden!

    Hi Rose, thanks. I am glad to hear you have jumped on the aster bandwagon. It is a fascinating group of plants, the perfect fall flower. Don’t give up on the A. tataricus, if you didn’t get the whole root, it will be back. Just look for that large leaf that makes you scratch your head and wonder what the heck is that? HA The muhly is coming, slowly but surely. πŸ™‚

  18. I can’t believe that you have no rabbits coming to eat all those asters! I just can’t grow them here due to the little munchers. Love, love the asters, though! Gorgeous colors for autumn.

    Hi Cameron, thanks. We have rabbits, I see them all the time, but they don’t seem to bother these tall asters at all, they cannot reach them! πŸ™‚

  19. Helen says:

    In the fall when most plants are getting ready to rest, we need more of the plants you describe as “well mannered” plants. They would add life and vigor to the garden in the fall.

    Hi Helen, thanks for visiting and welcome. Planting for fall is important, as you say. Most gardens are geared toward spring with a big show, then limp along the rest of the year. Fall in Tennessee is longer than spring and deserves to have garden interest beyond the turning leaves. The choices are more limited than what is available for spring bloom, but makes up for lack of quantity with high quality! πŸ™‚

  20. Hi, Frances!
    As a newbie to the Dahlia world (attended my first Dahlia festival last month) I have to tip my hat to that gorgeous photo. Though all of the blues are quite stunning. πŸ™‚

    Hi Kate, thanks. I am also quite new to Dahlias and so admire those gorgeous blooms. I just want them to overwinter in the ground. πŸ™‚

  21. Garden Walk Garden Talk says:

    Blue is my favorite, so this was a treat. Love those asters. My blue aster has been blooming almost all summer, with no stopping in sight. I half expect them to be popping out of the snow, like the iceberg roses do in December.

    Hi Donna, thanks. How wonderful about your long blooming aster, I suspect it is a New England type? They have been blooming here since early June. I am excited to hear about the Iceberg rose too. Must look into that! πŸ™‚

  22. Blue is my favorite and yours are stunning. I’m curious that your Dahlia survived the winter. I have to dig mine up and keep them in a dry place until Spring.

    Hi Merdehuit, thanks for joining in here. We are one zone too cold to leave the Dahlias in the ground all year. I am in zone denial. When one will make it, that inspires more time and treasure to try for more. Greedy of me, I know! πŸ™‚

  23. Anna says:

    What glorious asters Frances. Have made a note to find out more about ‘October Skies’ – that is if she has come across the pond or vice versa. I have a patch of ‘Little Carlow’ at the allotment – much loved by both bees and butterflies.

    Hi Anna, thanks. I hope you can find October Skies over there, the number of blooms is amazing. I have not seen Little Carlow for sale here, but often notice it mentioned in the English mags and blogs. I think I need it. πŸ™‚

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