Symphonic Symphyotrichum

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Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Andenken an Alma Potschke’; a really long name for an indispensable garden plant, blossoming now in our potager.

If I checked my archives, which I seldom do, I would probably see that I gush about Asters every year at about this time. And I have probably used the same adjectives and turns of phrase each time I have. The only significant alteration in text would have been the change of the generic taxonomy of the American species from Aster to Symphyotrichum beginning in the early 2000’s. Even if I did return to what I have said before, it would not matter a damn. I would and will simply say it all again.

Sedum maximum

Sedum maximum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Hydrangea aspera envelope Kalimeris ageratoides ‘Ezo Murasaki. This Japanese species, once in Aster, has been given a new genus name.

I will continue to use ‘Aster’ here, because we mostly all visualize this congregate of composites when it is. They are the last and most delectable dish to be served before the guests leave the feast. The autumnal titans of horticulture.

By the middle of August, the first flowers are opening on the first Asters, and the garden begins its first perceptible shift to autumn. They are the first revelation of what is to ultimately happen, as our borders are deliberately top-heavy in late performers. Most of the ‘Asters’ and their numerous cultivates and hybrids we primarily enjoy are N. American in origin. As with so many other native plants, they were popularized in Europe where they have long been utilized for superlative autumn effects. Now, many of these, properly educated, are again back home, thriving in our own backyard.

Aster amellus

A graceful tumble of Aster amellus ‘King George’ bows to the American, Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Richness’ in our perennial borders.

After numerous forays to nurseries in Europe over two and a half decades, Heronswood once had a nearly unparalleled collection of these. During the ‘off years’, from 2006-2012, a significant number were lost. No matter, as we are again actively and excitedly seeking out classic and new selections for inclusion in the garden.

After our recent and much needed rains, the sun is set to reappear this Friday and Saturday. With freshened air and a revived sparkle to our borders, we welcome you to wander our paths and discover all that this season can offer.

– Dan