They Used To Be Asters

The botanists have been at it again. Not content with changing schizostylis to hesperantha, and dumping dicentra spectabilis in the bin and rechristening it lamprocapnos spectabilis, we now have another almost impossible name to remember. Some asters (but only some) are now symphotrichum, but that includes most of the named varieties that keep the colour going in the garden at this time of year.  This blog was going to be on the aster nova-angliae asters; now it’s on symphotrichum nova-angliae.

These are  varieties which have occurred naturally from a species that hails from Canada and parts of the United States. They like an open, sunny position (the flowers will not open fully in shade), with a soil that is not too dry. Although mildew resistant, the lower leaves may be affected if the plants are under stress through lack of water. These also tend to die off as the plants come into flower, but this effect can be reduced by pinching out the young growth in spring when it is about six inches high. The flowers close in the evening, making them less suitable as cut flowers, and they do not adapt well to growing in containers, but in the garden are able to perform at their best. Here is a clump of different varieties in my garden just now.

Asters - 2015

The pale pink flowers belong to “Harrington’s Pink.” This grows to about five feet and is possibly reckoned to be the best in this group. The darker pink variety is “Primrose Upward.” This is shorter at about two feet, although it seems to grown taller at the back of the group. At the front is the redder “Andenken an Alma Potschke” (also sold as “Alma Potschke”), growing to three feet.  You can just make out “Violetta” which has dark purple flowers – photographs never seems to do the colour of this one justice. I also have “Herbstschnee”, which seems to flower before the others, and carries white blooms.

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