Thursday, 3 March 2011

Think ahead; Plant Asters now to ensure autumn colour

With Spring not even at our doorstep, bringing up the subject of late summer/autumn colour, may seem barmy. I realise we currently have Crocusses, Daffodils and Narcissi on the brain, but just bear with me.

The highlight for all gardeners is seeing their work fruition into beautiful blooming bounty. We all work hard to ensure borders start early and finish as late as is naturally possible. During the flowering season, the big decisions are made as to which plants need to be added, moved, or removed, for the borders to achieve their full potential. It is also at this time that one starts regretting not including plants that start flowering late in the season, to ensure continued colour and appeal.  That is until, today....

Piet Oudolf has to be one of the best garden designers around. His preachings are highly respected in our household, and where appropriate ideas, incorporated. In addition to his tremendous eye for design, his gardens are famous for their continued allure, well into the winter season and beyond. One of his many magic ingredients is, Asters.

Ever since work started in the borders four years ago, including Asters for that all important late flowering spree, was always on the agenda. Unfortunately, by the time one is inspired, it is often too late. At least for that year. Magazine glossies logically follow the seasons, although sometimes, I wish they would feature 'If you want this,... then do this now!' type advice, to ensure we do the required, at the right time, to get the best possible out of flowering season. The point is, if one is keen to have late flowering plants, plant them now! Or otherwise, regret their omission for yet another year.

The Greenhouse borders currently do include a wide variety of plants that have autumn appeal, such as the Eupatoriums, Eryngium, Veronicastrums, Anemone's, and so forth, but few are actually autumn flowering plants, which is the magic of Asters.

For Aster inspiration, I recommend visiting Upton House and RHS Wisley gardens in September/October, as they have an impressive collection on display. For planting in one's own border, there is however such a huge array of Aster varieties, that choosing is rather complicated. To narrow my search, the following characteristics were required; toughness, reliability, height, upright growth habit and impressive flower display in blue and light pink colours. My final choices are; Aster Little Carlow and Aster Lateriflorus Lady in Black.

My spade is at the ready, to welcome the new additions to the garden. May they flower profusely....

2 comments:

  1. I keep hearing about Ouldorf but have never got round to checking him out. Thanks for the link. Wonder if he does balconies too ... :)
    Welcome to Blotanical - I hope being listed there brings you lots of readers. Did you know you have messages waiting?

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  2. Aster laevis brings in the most insects of any aster I have, followed by New England asters. I gaden exclusively for fall: ironweed, asters, joe pye, goldenrod, sunflowers, tons of cultivars of each of the above (I have a 14' ironweed and 12' eupatorium). Anyway, love seeing people spread the words about the best season of them all!

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