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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday~Little Asters Everywhere

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not, and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky. 

Now let's talk about the ex-asters at C and L!

If you had been here today, you would have seen the ex-asters dancing in the breeze while Bumble Bees flew from flower to flower in their mad dash to gather as much pollen as possible before the cold weather arrives.

Butterflies, Hover flies, bee mimics and even a Green Metallic bee or two were noshing on the pollen and nectar delights.

Ex-aster time is the best time to be in the garden and maybe the best time to be a bee!*

I love how fantastic these flowers can look when they are allowed to plant themselves with abandon throughout the garden. If you can go with the flow you'll be rewarded with a blue cloud of shimmering flowers that bloom until frost...But, if you need more order, they are magnificent in mixed borders.
The ex-asters planted themselves with abandon all over the garden
I fell head over heals in love with the blue and lilac flowers that were all over the yard and covered with bees and butterflies when we moved into this house 26 years ago today. They so captured my heart, that I built the garden around them.  

I move them around, I scatter seeds, I let the wind carry the fluffy seed head wherever it takes them and I add new species that make sense for this garden. By September Symphyotrichum shortii, S cordifolium, Eurybia divaricata, S lateriflorum and S ericoides var. ericoides, S novae-angliae, S praealtum~Miss Bessie, S oblongifolius, S patens and S priceae have spilled into the paths, crept into the wildflower beds and cozied up to the chairs and benches all over Clay and Limestone creating my dancing blue cloud and a buffet for pollinators.

Symphyotrichum is a genus of about 90 species of herbaceous annual and perennial plants that were formerly treated within the genus Aster, but, are now known officially at Clay and Limestone as the ex-asters or asters when I forget their ridiculously hard to pronounce new genus.

The ex-asters in my garden are all endemic to Middle Tennessee and grow and thrive in the shallow clay soil and semi-shady to almost full sun conditions of my Zone7 garden (formerly Zone6b). Symphyotrichum are found all over North America and there are many that will grow in your garden.  For information and help in identifying flowers you see growing in natural areas go to Image Gallery provided by the US Dept of Agriculture.  Check with your state native plant society for recommendations on where to purchase some hard to find beauties.

Trust me, they are worth the search~



Before long you'll have little ex-asters everywhere, too.

xoxogail

*The Bumble Bees, honeybees, Miner bees, and large Leaf-Cutting bees (long-tongued bees), bee flies, butterflies, and skippers that visit the flowers for nectar and pollen are essential for cross pollination or all those fluffy seeds would be infertile. So never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides, if you want pollinators to pollinate your ex-asters and other plants!

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

27 comments:

  1. Oh there you are already up, I've been checking since yesterday, hahaha! I always forget about this and when i remember my timing is always unsynchronized. Those asters are really beautiful, we don't have them here in the hot tropics. We have one called asters but very different from that. I love the wide angle shots to see how then inhabit the landscape. The colors i love too!

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  2. Gail I am ex-aster crazy and refuse to learn their new name...I have them scattered as well and try to add new ones and encourage the scattered little asters to move freely....yours are just lovely Gail and I would have fallen in love with yours as well.

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  3. I have some of those exasters too. They just keep on giving. Happy WW.

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  4. Beautiful photos! I love asters in the fall garden.

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  5. Your ex-asters are wonderful Gail, as are these photos showing pollinators enjoying them. The ex-aster blooming in our garden right now may be one you sent me in a care package three springs ago. I can't remember for sure, since a few other asters came to live here that same year, and they've all been moved about since then.

    Our dry-shade garden is notorious for making life difficult for seedlings, but this year we did have a few ex-aster seedlings survive the drought. I hope we'll see even more blooms next year!

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  6. The pollinators are abuzz all over the little asters here, too, dear Gail. The various white blooming ones were already here, I have added the blue ones, but need more! Happy WW!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  7. Hi Gail,
    I love all your blooms, and pollinators! You capture all the details on those bumbles! I wish I hadn't planted the hybrid asters I have, but at this point, I'm not sure which are which, except for a certain clump, which I see has had one seed in another spot. Oh, and there's another small clump named after Jim or James? Crocket from the Victory Garden. They sure are pretty, though. Oh, they are the ones in my post that I point out. I am pleased, though, that there are some in new spots that I hadn't even noticed until they started blooming.

    I look forward to reading the other WW posts this evening.

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  8. It was about this time of year three years ago that I visited your garden, Gail, and I remember the clouds of blue/purple and white everywhere. Your garden is a visual delight in the fall, and your photos are fantastic!

    I'm never going to call these plants anything but asters, either; I know the bees don't care what their name is:)

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  9. Hi Gail, love the asters. I have a crop too, neighbors would love for me to cut them down haha - best part is ALL the bees/butterflies in the neighborhood are at my house so there's no chance. I'm curious about your comment "zone 7 (formerly 6b)" Do you know if Nashville is changed in that regard? I know you must be a little south (west) of me but was just wondering if/when the map changed.

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  10. You know I love the former asters. I feel like they are the artist, Prince, forced to go by another name, but still the same wildflowers. I love them in my garden, and I'm glad you promote them heartily.~~Dee

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  11. I, too, have a love affair with the ex-asters. (I love your solution to their name, rather than calling them Symphyotrikes, or something similar!) Mums, the other popular flower at this time of year, leave me cold - they are like plastic plants compared to the ex-asters, since the big, colorful puffs of mums attract few, if any, pollinators, especially compared to the clouds of pollinators visiting the small but infinite blooms of the flowers-formerly-known-as-asters.

    Their bloom time is so bittersweet, too, since they are the last plants to bloom in my garden before the cold, quiet of winter.

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  12. Asters are wonderful, they help make the season. Nice pictures. Overall, I'd have to say my favorite is Aromatic Aster - S. oblongifolius.

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  13. Wow, I just love these ex-asters. :-) I love your relaxed and lovely garden, your photos are wonderful.

    I don't know how I've missed being a follower of yours. I just signed up to get updates of your blog by email.

    Happy Gardening ~ FlowerLady

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  14. Asters sure do attract a lot of pollinators. You built your garden around them? How cool!

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  15. Wonderful!
    Beautiful!
    Have a great day!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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  16. You are a Bee photographer extraordinaire!

    I have one tiny aster in my garden, but remember that I am still new to it....soon....

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  17. It's very pretty how the asters are winding through your beds, creating great late season colour, and leading to little bees winding through your garden.

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  18. The blue haze is stunning, Gail! Your lawn chairs are perfect, and it's especially apparent when the Asters are in their glory!

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  19. The bees and the butterflies know how to live don't they? Nose stuck in beauty all day long. I love asters.

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  20. This month my daisies are yellow, the blue Felicia are photo-shy.

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  21. Yes! Gorgeous photos. This year my driveway garden is in its second spring, with a light reflowering of catmint and many wild asters, which have been encouraged to bloom in the monarda bed after the monarda have been cut back. I wish I had more of the lavender varieties, as many of mine are white. A really easy and rewarding fall garden.

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    Replies
    1. I enjoyed visiting your blog, glad you stopped by to see mine!

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  22. I only have Alma Potscke in my garden and they've gone by, but a few asters were still in bloom on our local Bridge of Flowers. Great photos as always.

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    Replies
    1. Want seeds! I can send you some in a few weeks when they ripen!

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  23. Hi Gail. I didn't have many asters and I think I lost them in this summers terrible drought. Yours are stunning! We are having cold spell here. The butterflies are all gone and the bees are waiting out some warmer days. Nothing blooming. The drought devastated everything here. Hoping for better days next season.

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  24. I'd like to be a bee in your beautiful garden in your beautiful part of the country. No asters here, the bunnies eat them before they have a chance to grow.

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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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