Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Little Asters Everywhere Fall 2010



It's that time of year when the garden is feeling blue...But, it's a great blue! It's a blue ribbon blue.
 


The little asters are everywhere in shades of blues, whites and lilacs.

Aster is the Greek name for “star,” and believe me, this flowering perennial is the autumn star in my garden.
Fall 2009
What a difference a year makes. This time last year the garden was saturated from 14 inches of rain in a three week period of time! (go here for last year's version) This year is very different. We desperately need rainbut, the asters bloom anyway.

October 2010
Neither drought nor deluge can stop their blue show. They will bloom in this garden until a killing frost takes them down.

They're my practically perfect fall flower.
A bee mimic
 I love the clouds of blue that fill the mostly shady beds all fall.


They are endemic to Tennessee and the Central Basin where I garden. I fell head over heals for them the first fall we moved into Casa Cedar almost 25 years ago. They were a smaller blue cloud then, but, they so captured my heart that I built Clay and Limestone around them. I'm a "let them be" kind of gardener and encourage their colonizing ways. They've rooted and seeded  themselves everywhere. Symphyotrichum shortii, Symphyotrichum cordifolium, Symphyotrichum dumosus, Eurybia divaricata, Symphyotrichum lateriflorum and Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides fill the central borders and beds.
They spill into the paths, they've crept into the wildflower beds and they cozy up to the benches. If you want a big blue look and have the space and/or tolerance for their green leafiness most of the summer, then, they are the plants for you! You can surely find a few for your garden with over 66 species asters found in the United States.
 They bloom for almost two months, grow in almost any soils, flower in the shade, tolerate drought or deluge, they are also larval host plants for many species of Lepidoptera and are visited by every bee, bee mimic, wasp, skipper and butterfly that lives here or stops by the garden. They are the primary nectar source for late visiting butterflies and bees. If we have a later than usual frost, they are often the only nectar source for the last bees.
Last fall I added Symphyotrichum patens and Symphyotrichum priceae to the GOBN and the Susans Border. Except for their different leaf form, S patens has a clasping leaf and S priceae has narrow needle like leaves, the flowers almost look identical!
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium with river oats
In other words, they are beautiful little asters and they are everywhere.


xxoogail

39 comments:

  1. Beautiful Gail, what a wonderful October post. Your indigo colored garden furniture look great together with all the lovely colors of autumn.

    Tyra

    Fragrant and Tasty in Tyra’s Garden

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  2. What a sweet post about the little guys, dear Gail! The difference in the chair from weathered natural to luscious purple is incredible. It all looks like fall in paradise. :-)
    xxxooo
    Frances

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  3. I love it that your Adirondack chairs match some of the asters!

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  4. Wonderful Gail! I really like the photo with the river oats too...what an interesting seed! We have loads of asters here too in central MA, each year I seem to discover a new species! They are so cheerful, they make me happy. It's always so much fun to see what will grow if you let it...
    Ellen

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  5. I am so much in love with the little asters that I added six this year in four varieties. I already had several. They add so much to the fall garden, and I've been encouraging my garden groups to plant them. Maybe they will.~~Dee

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  6. They do look great! I think we have many of the wild ones - or many of one wild one - on the slope. The asters I have in the garden are all done with their show.

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  7. I have a long-time Aussie girlfriend ("sister") and one of our favorite sayings (born in a long-ago 3-way conversation with my mother..who was an avid gardener to say the very least) is "Purple would be nice!" We've said it through the years as often as possible :)
    And yes, is it! I love purple, and in your garden it definitely shines.
    The Asters gently gracing the purple bench is an especially beautiful shot.
    Love those pollinators!

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  8. The chair looks great purple, and the ex-asters are just a delight. I need cordifolius.

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  9. The asters are delightful. Your purple bench and chairs are a whimsical touch too!

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  10. Hey Gail,

    Gorgeous indeed, Asters seem to be very popular these days... Hardly a surprise as they are just so easy and provide much needed food for insects at this time of year - wonderful!

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  11. The forth picture from the buttom is especially lovely - a brown leaf with the blue flowers and a bench. Very nice post, Gail! My asters grow in the spot where not many other plants would grow, and I am thankful to them!

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  12. Beautiful Asters Gail, your bee in the first photo seems to really be enjoying them. We have a native Symphyotrichum species here that has been going strong since July, in areas of the orchard that never see a drop of water outside of the rainy season. I hope they self sow this year now the deer are excluded from that area, as I'd love to have as many asters as you!

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  13. So sorry you are in water deficit. The wild asters do perform much better than the cultivars when drought conditions prevail. I love all your blues.

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  14. Not only do you build your garden around your lovely asters Gail, but you even paint your chairs and benches to blend beautifully. Great flowers and as you say most important food supply for our bees and butterflies. Lovely post. ;>)

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  15. Asters are definitely the stars of the garden now. Just today I was looking at last years journal to see what was happening and I saw that I was whining about water sitting the the back corner of the garden. Ha... I wish I had some of that water now. I guess it is not to be. There is water rationing beginning in some of the counties south of us. I wonder when rationing will hit here. I hope to get some shrubs watered in yet. Hoping they will survive the winter. We will both be doing rain dances this fall.

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  16. Gail I thoroughly enjoyed this post! You have quite a collection of asters and they look beautiful in your garden.

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  17. Hi Gail, As usual you taught me a lot I didn't know about plant varieties and the creatures dependent on them. The asters are the only thing left blooming in the meadow, and quite honestly those are all self seeding, so the variety is unknownia, v.cutie :)

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  18. Asters rule in the fall garden. I can't imagine not having them around as a grand finale off autumn.

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  19. They all look great! Don't you love S. shortii? I just added some this year and I've been so happy with their color and the fact that they don't flop.

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  20. I love the wild abundance of the blue asters (and it looks like the pollinators do too). They look especially sweet resting on your benches and chairs.

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  21. I love all the clouds of blue in your garden, Gail, especially cozying up to the purple bench and chairs. Since you already have PPPP, maybe these could be called the AAAA--Absolutely Amazing Autumn Asters!

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  22. No one could feel blue reading this delightful post, Gail. I so love your garden furniture, so perfect in your setting. Oh yes, I would so love to come and sit for a spell :)

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  23. This is one plant not represented in my garden. I may have to rectify that with a dark purple variety.

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  24. That 9th picture is so beautiful. The purple chairs contrast so pretty with the asters. Lovely...
    Balisha

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  25. Most of our wild asters have gone by, but I did find one tiny sprig down at the edge of the woods today.

    The chairs in your garden look so inviting.

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  26. Wonderful! Love those purple-blue chairs and bench. Must paint my furniture....

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  27. Beautiful pictures. I love asters. Those deep purple chairs are a perfect foil for the blue asters.

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  28. You always get great bee shots, and I love that shot of purple in your bench and chairs....

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  29. Love any and all asters. Esp. love the combo with northern sea oats.

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  30. Gail,
    Loved the first aster photo with the bee well done. So can you sit in those two purple chairs. We have one just like those, but it is well past it's prime and very sad.

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  31. I love that you built your garden around the native blue cloud! it looks beautiful. I am new to asters, but plan on squeezing another in next year to help extend the season. No room for a ribbon, but maybe a button!

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  32. Those are lovely. I have some which run all through my garden too but mine are a pale lilac, not as blue as yours! But mine too are as tough as old boots.

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  33. Note to self: Need asters for corner bed, preferably varieties that are as lovely as Gail's!

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  34. Gorgeous flowers and I LOVE your garden!! Asters are a fave of mine too!

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  35. Hey Gail girl !
    I finally made it over here and I am loving the plants and garden furniture : ) chairs and bench look perfect just as they are placed there .. this is truly an October looking post !!
    Joy : )

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  36. I've even see wild ones along the River Tay. I love them especially in this lavender blue colour - its a symphony of blue.......... that's the nearest I'll ever remember their new botanical classification!

    Those little bees seem to be enjoying the blooms and despite the lack of rain the blooms don't seem to be suffering Gail.

    Have a lovely weekend :)

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  37. Gail, I love your Aster Festival. How nice that yours bloom so long. I would think they're a nice way to say good bye to the garden for a few winter months.

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  38. I like how they pop up between the slats in the wooden chair! Very cool!! :0)

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  39. Asters are such great plants -- I'm glad we can still call them asters as a group, even though they've turned into various genera, with unfamiliar names.

    I've enjoyed mine this season tremendously.

    Lisa

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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