Plants of the Week: 7.10.13 Asters

Asters: common name Michaelmas daisy. All asters are best divided in spring as new growth starts. Lift and then use two back-to-back forks to split the clump. Be careful when handling the old stems as they can be sharp. Some varieties are denser and may need a knife or spade. Discard old woody pieces.

Aster novae angliae ‘Lucida’ – Rose Garden

Aster novae angliae 'Lucida'

Aster novae angliae ‘Lucida’

North America 1710. Purple flowers with a yellow centre and mauve/purple tinted stem which is covered in very fine hairs. When you look at the yellow centre up close you will notice it has a resemblance of honeycomb.

Aster novi belgii ‘Carnival’ – Rose Garden

Aster novi belgii 'Carnival'

Aster novi belgii ‘Carnival’

North America. Purple/pink flowers with yellow centres. When the new leaves are produced they are very tightly squashed together in clusters. Flowers throughout autumn continuously.

Aster ‘Alma Potschke’ – Rose Garden

Aster 'Alma Potschke'

Aster ‘Alma Potschke’

Neon pink flowers with an orange/bronze tinge to the centre. The stem is covered in fine hairs and the foliage is smooth, both are a light green in colour. This aster is mildew resistant, a big bonus as a lot of asters are susceptible to powdery mildew and grey mould.

Aster x frikartii ‘Wunder Von Staffa’ – Rose Garden

Aster x frikartii 'Wunder von Stafa'

Aster x frikartii ‘Wunder von Stafa’

Light mauve coloured flower with a yellow centre. Pale green stem with larger leaves than the other asters mentioned. All of the asters listed are very good for butterflies in the garden and will still be flowering in to October.

Aster ‘Violet Queen’ – Rose Garden

Plants of the Week

Aster ‘Violet Queen’

Smaller purple/mauve flower with a green/turning yellow centre. There is a dark burgundy/purple tinge to the stem and very fine hairs on the glossy foliage. ‘Violet Queen’ is a selection from the Italian starwort, Aster amellus. The species name is thought to have come from the River Mella, an Italian tributary of the River Po. This aster, now rare in the wild, can still be found on free-draining ground on sunny limestone slopes through central France, northern Italy, the Czech Republic and the Caucasus. It was used medicinally as a poultice by the Greeks and Romans for a variety of inflammatory ailments, which is possibly why it became rare.

Cosmos astrosanguineus – Rose Garden

Cosmos atrosanguineus

Cosmos atrosanguineus

Spreading tuberous perennial, with pinnate divided leaves and bowl-shaped, chocolate scented, maroon/crimson flowers. As with most cosmos varieties, the blooms resemble small single dahlias, and its culture is similar too, as it has a tuber which, in mild gardens, can be planted at least 15cm (6in) deep and left in the ground with winter protection. However, it is more usually lifted in autumn for drying and storage. Propagate by taking basal cuttings in early spring and providing bottom heat.

Jon Fenlon

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