Here come the asters
This is the first year that asters have made much of an impact in the garden. I searched out quite a few last autumn and planted them this spring and they are starting to bloom. In case you did not know, most of the asters that we might call Michaelmas daisies, are no longer asters, the North American asters being split into various genera, mostly symphyotrichum. But the first I want to mention has never been just an aster.
I have always known it as xSolidaster luteus, raised in France in 1910 as a cross between Solidago canadensis and Aster ptarmicoides. However, despite the parentage, it is now Solidago x luteus. This is because Aster ptarmicoides has been renamed as Solidago ptarmicoides. This seems to be based on the fact that it hybridises with solidago, even though it has white, ‘daisy-like’ flowers that look nothing like a golden rod.
Whatever the name, the cultivar is ‘Lemore’ and, for those who are terrified of solidago, it is sterile so wont spread like crazy. It is bushy and neat and carries much-branched heads of lemon yellow flowers that are unlike (most) golden rods because the ‘flowers’ have ray florets, albeit short. It is not often seen in gardens, and I am not sure why – though name changes never help a plant’s popularity – although it is much grown commercially as a cut flower to pad out your garage bouquets.
It has one main problem, in common with most of its clan, and is rather prone to mildew if it is dry and stressed. So far my young plant is not showing any signs.
Of course not all the asters became symphyotrichum. Aster umbellatus is now Doellingeria umbellatus. Annoying or what!
I am having to wait for some of the ‘asters’ to start flowering – after all Michaelmas is not till the 29th – but this one has been in bloom for weeks. It is often known as the flat-topped aster and it does indeed have rather flattened domes of blooms. Compared to some other whites, which I will mention soon, the colour is rather beige, even though the flowers have white ray florets and yellow discs. I like it but it doesn’t dazzle. But, it is in bloom for ages, it is supposed to be mildew-free and the foliage should turn yellow in autumn.
The Aster amellus, which remain aster, have been blooming for many, many weeks.
Kalimeris have never been asters, though they have been boltonias! They are very aster-like but have divided leaves. Kalimeris incisa usually has blue flowers and is Japanese but I have ‘Hortensis’. At least I thought I did because it may be called Kalimeris pinnatifida ‘Hortensis’ or Asteromea mongolica! Quite how it is mongolica when it comes from Japan is confusing just for the sake of it.
Whatever the name, this is a tough and easy plant with stiff, wiry stems. These branch to create a rather airy display of flowers with rather fluffy discs of primrose yellow. I have given up with names at this stage so I will describe them as ‘anemone-centred’ to use a gardening description. They are fresh and lemon and white at first but age with a mauve flush. I have three plants in two sites and they are self-supporting, have been in bloom for six weeks and have no mildew. It won’t have you speechless with wonder but it is useful.
Oh man all those name changes! I admire you for trying to keep up. I guess the taxonimists have to earn their keep somehow…
I sometimes wish they would find something else to do!