One of my favourite garden flowers especially for late summer and autumn colour is the aster or michaelmas daisy. I was quite surprised when talking to other gardeners who said they do not grow them because they are prone to mildrew. Whilst this is true of the Aster novi-belgii group there are many more that are mildrew resistant.
To inspire more gardeners to grow michaelmas daisies I have made a note of the ones that I grow or would like to if I had more space!
One of the most readily available in garden centres is the Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’ AGM. It grows to about 90cm and is lavender blue with a yellow centre. I grow a similar one, Aster ‘Wunder von Staffa’ AGM with Solidago ‘Fireworks’, they look great when flowering together. A smaller one that I must try and make room for is Aster amellus ‘King George’ AGM, purple with a yellow centre that grows up to 60cm.
The novae-angliae group offers a wide choice of mildew resistant asters. ‘Barr’ s Violet’ is one that I grow, it is a long established variety introduced in the 1920’ s and it will grow up to 120cm.
Two others to consider in this group is Harrrington’ s Pink AGM that grows up to 1.5m and produces sprays of pink flowers. If you’ re feeling brave the Andenken an Alma Potschke AGM, is also 1.5m high with sprays of vivid salmon-pink flower heads. The novae-angliae grows best in more moist soils and their lower leaves can look a bit tatty so they are best planted behind other late bloomers.
Aster lateriflorus ‘Horizontalis’ AGM is the one that Christopher Lloyd used, so successfully, at Great Dixter as a hedging plant instead of lavender. I grow the variety Prince which is similar but with dark bronze almost black foliage and tiny star like flowers with a raspberry coloured eye.
Two of the best I have kept till last. Aster ‘Ochtendgloen’ (pringlei Asteraceae is an AGM that will reach 1.5m and carries large branches of small, starry pink flowers. Aster ‘Little Carlow’ (cordifolius Asteraceae AGM is a bushy plant up to 1m with lots of blue, yellow centered, small daisies which I pair with Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.
I hope this gives a taste of healthy trouble free michaelmas daisies that are available, plant them with the other late bloomers already mentioned. Also, asters planted with Echinaceas, Japanese anemone and some grasses, Miscanthus, Stipa gigantea or Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ will give you a wonderful show of Late Bloomers.