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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I love This Aster




Stokesia laevis 'Peachie's Pick' also known as Stokes' Aster.
Isn't she lovely!

As you can see, there is nothing peachy or apricot about this Stokes' Aster! It's the prettiest lavender blue.
Stokesia laevis is not native to the Central Basin or for that matter to Tennessee, but, it is one of my favorite wildflowers. It has a lot going for it~fantastic color, evergreen foliage, a decently long bloom time, a pollinator magnet and it plays well with others in the garden.


But, it languished in the garden the first season I planted it. It slowly started to disappear. Once I figured out that it "brooks no poorly drained, heavy clay soil" we started getting along much better.

IMHO, 'Peachie's Pick' is the best stokesia I've seen!
Stokes' Aster is lovely, but, the cultivar 'Peachie's Pick' is the best I've ever seen. Imagine, luscious lavender blue flowers, standing straight and tall on deep green stems. Of course I grabbed three plants and headed home.

Having failed with species Stokes' Aster~I was prepared to give Peachie the garden conditions she needed~Dry feet all winter, even moisture all summer and plenty of sun. I planted them in the Susan's Bed, right next to the soaker hose, in soil amended with gravel to improve drainage. She's thrived ever since!

I'm not the only one at C and L who loves this flower~Pollinators of all shapes and sizes stop by for a bit of nectar and pollen. (More about pollen and nectar at Lip Smacking Deliciousness)


The skippers are my favorite of the Peachie's Pick visitors. They are darling little butterflies that seem to skip from flower to flower, barely resting, but, they always stop to feed on the stokesia. Seeing them everyday flitting about assures me that I am doing the right things in this garden to create a healthy garden habitat. (Eye, Eye, Skipper~A Big Eyed Pollinator) Randy has identified these skippers as female Sachem. Thank you!

Look at that beetle chomp away on the pollen! Beetles are important pollinators, too.
Beetles~ They're all about themselves, just there to chomp on the pollen, but, they do a decent job of pollinating while they're dining. Unless, they start eating the petals I don't mind if they hang around Peachie.
You're probably wondering how I could tease you with this absolutely marvelous plant if you can't grow it.
I must apologize for teasing gardeners who live further north than Tennessee with this fantastic plant. Stokesia is a native of the Southeastern states where it's found growing in moist pine flatlands on slightly acid soil. It's a stretch to grow it at Clay and Limestone with my nearly neutral clay soil with dry summers and wet winters. But, it's worth a bit of effort. Maybe you should try it. Just remember~No Winter Wet Feet!



If you aren't crazy about the lavender flowers of 'Peachie's Pick' ~You might like Stokesia laevis 'Mary Gregory' with yellow flowers.

xxoogail

This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011.This work protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

45 comments:

  1. I have never seen the yellow aster. I would love to give that a try.

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  2. Gail,

    I like stokes asters too, we have several of them. That first photo is awesome. All the skippers in your photos are female Sachems, my coneflowers are full of the same skippers daily here.

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  3. Randy, Thank you for the skipper id! You are my go to guy for critter id! gail

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  4. I've seen this growing in a garden near me, but I think the gardener must treat it as an annual. The yellow one is unusual; so pretty! All the flying visitors just add to the showy blooms.

    I tried to add a comment to your last post several times yesterday, but my computer was acting up again--I've always loved that quote from Erma Bombeck. Hope you had a great Fourth!

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  5. I have an Aster I really need to relocate. Yours are stunning.

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  6. I love Peachie's Pick too. I have another blue one like it, 'Blue Danube' I think, and it's also good, but PP is the hands down favorite. Your photos are stunning.~~Dee

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  7. This is a plant I have never grown, dear Gail, and your post will see to it that is remedied, pronto! Lovely photos!
    xxxooo
    Frances

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  8. Gail, I've had trouble growing Stokesias here on my corner of Katy. You've encouraged me to try them again in a different bed. I want more skippers!

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  9. No winter wet feet! - It means I can't have it here in the wet NW.
    Gail, you are right, it's a beauty! Thank you!

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  10. Very pretty and it looks like it is quite popular all around. Did you get a new camera? Of course you did and it shows. Great photos.

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  11. So lovely, Gail. Peachie's Pick is indeed a beauty! I am lucky with Stokes' Aster that seem to enjoy my garden :)

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  12. This is one I have looked at many times, but haven't added to the garden....yet. Long bloom time? One of my problems is the sunny garden area has a wet area through the middle. Need to amend that part of the garden more before I add much there.

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  13. I would love some of these, but our winters here in the PNW are all about the wetness! I wonder if it would do ok in a raised sandy bed? I might try it anyway.

    Thanks for posting such great pictures.

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  14. Gail those blooms are so pretty and delicate, just lovely! And yes you are a tease...hehehe! If they are not a fan of wet feet then I wont even try in the land of webbed-feet ;)

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  15. No asters here. Annuals I believe in my zone. Postcard perfect photos. So true about planting in the right soil and sun...oh, the never ending things we go through for a happy garden.

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  16. I agree that with Stoke's Aster, 'Peachie's Pick' is much better than the pallid wild type. I enjoyed seeing your beautiful pictures!

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  17. Gail your garden looks so lush! I've got a lot of burned plants right now.

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  18. What a pretty Aster Gail. Looks like the pollinators love it also. Asters do not do well in my clay. They just get leggy on me and fall flat. This one sounds from your posting that it may have stronger stems.Great shots!

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  19. I love your photos. You always inspire me to go out and try to take better photos. Haven't seen that aster before. Lovely.

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  20. Ooooh, I rather like both of them! Your beetles seem to have better table manners than ours. We've had some sort of black beetle on our native California sunflowers (Encelia sp.), and they practically stripped the petals bare! I'd rather have skippers ;)

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  21. Well, thank you for solving the mystery of why I cannot seem to grow Stokes Aster in my garden -- wet winter feet. I will have to investigate to see if I have another spot in my garden that might be more accommodating. I love gardening -- and blogging -- because I can learn something new even after I think I've learned everything :-) Always humbling, isn't it.

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  22. Dearest Gail, thank you for posting on these lovelies. I have a purple/blue {name unknown by me} that was given to me from a dear friend that is no longer with us, also I do have the "Mary Gregory", a lovely yellow, as that was my mothers name. She is no longer with me either.
    I have ordered a couple others {Honeysong Purple} & plan to obtain others as well. I really like these little gems.

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  23. I'm jealous. This plant, after several tries refused to make my garden its home. Your photos are luscious, Gail.

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  24. Such a nice Stokesia! It's too bad they're only annuals here. Still, they may be worth a try!

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  25. Beautiful images Gail. I am going to have to look into the yellow aster as it is one I did not know. I really love asters of all kinds, but finding the right conditions for them is always difficult here.

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  26. Haha - you can't tease me any more, I'm moving, just so I can grow that lovely aster! And camellias. And salvia greggii. And crape myrtles. And melianthus major.

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  27. I love all of these! I planted stokesia last year, but none came back. Grrrrrr.

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  28. The Va. dept. of Agriculture, Va. Tech and the state nursery industry started a program here to promote plants that do really well all over the state, and Peachies Pick was on the list, along with a lot of other cool plsnts. Oddly, the whole program started with money given for people to grow something other than tobacco.

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  29. It's a beauty for sure Gail. I tried planting it here but lost all three plants. Maybe for the reasons you stated. I should try again as I'm getting ready to amend part of the front garden for Penstemon palmeri ~ the stokes aster might like the gravel too. Your photos are superb! Hope you've been having a good summer.

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  30. The only thing my comment is about is that it has to do with purple, but not purple aster. On Feb. 4, 2011 you have a pic that shows 2 different purple irises. Do you know their names?
    Sallysmom

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  31. Cyndy, That is so cool! Glad you'll be able to have all those wonderful plants! Now I do need to plan a visit to that part of the garden world~gail

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  32. Sally's Mom, They were pass-a-long plants and I know them only as heirloom Iris germanicas. They multiply like crazy so you may be able to get a piece from a fellow gardener. gail

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  33. Just found your blog and had to say how beautiful your photos are. Will be back to check on future posts. Thanks for the posting.

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  34. Then, again, maybe I could get both colors! Beautiful flowers -- and the good drainage thing is absolutely no problem in my sandy soil. :-) -Jean

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  35. I also grow stokesia although mine does stay a bit moist in the winter, it does fine. But in the summer here, they can be water hogs and need a bit of filtered afternoon shade. But they're worth the effort!!! Great post!

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  36. Great blog! I'm sorry I haven't run across it before now. I garden in Middle TN too.

    'Peachie's Pick' is my fave of the Stokesias -- unlike so many other varieties, it doesn't flop. My understanding is a lady in MS named Peachie found it as a volunteer in her garden and recognized its sterling qualities, hence the cultivar name.

    'Mary Gregory' in my view is most effective planted in groups as the pale yellow color doesn't have a lot of oomph from a distance. Lovely subtle bloom close up, needless to say.

    Agree with the above poster about a little PM shade being appreciated. They occur in that setting in the wild. Stokesia are quite easy from seed, BTW, although they won't come true to variety. Varieties tend to be self-sterile, but they set seed like crazy if two different types are present. It's fun to see what comes up -- who knows, maybe the next great Stokesia cultivar.

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  37. I love Stokes asters as well. The main problem we've had with them is that someone who was helping with the gardening here (we have a lot of work to get ready for the spring garden tour) would pull them up as weeds! I finally had to let her go after too many asters, clematis, and platycodon fell victim to the hoe when she was around LOL. But yours make me want to run out and get more! Love the macros of the fauna as well.

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  38. I grow asters also, and they do have a bit of a problem with the wet winters. But as long as the lavender survives, so do the asters. My asters will be headlining a post soon as well. They just started to come into bloom. Your photos are beautiful and I can only hope mine come out as well.

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  39. She's just peachy Gail! I love the yellow one too. I've never seen a yellow stokesia. We have the species here - she flops a bit, but thrives in our dry loam. Our blooms just started opening this weekend.

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  40. Beautiful photos Gail! I especially love the one with the skipper nearly lost inside the light filled lavender petals. Number six in your lovely line-up.

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