Atmospheric Flowers: Blue Asters

Masses of small blue, daisy-like flowers

Some plants don’t just add colour, mass and form to a border, they add atmosphere, nostalgia even. Take old-fashioned blue asters, for instance. Individually, the small, daisy-like flowers are on the raggedy side but their profusion packs a punch. If you can look at this picture without imagining a hum of pollinators foraging the flowers for nectar and pollen, you’re not getting out enough.

When I was a child, I used to know places nearby where asters like these grew wild. In those days, my eye didn’t appraise a plant for mildew or an ample coverage of foliage: I took pleasure in the blue daisies and assumed the grown ups (or Mother Nature) would take care of the rest. I poked a few stems through buttonholes to decorate my cardigan and called them Michaelmas daisies without understanding anything of the long history wrapped up in the name. 

These particular asters were cultivated ones that had been picked out to produce pockets of late blooms amongst the seed heads in Trentham Gardens’ perennial borders by no less than Piet Oudolf. Perhaps he remembers them from his childhood too.

Shared as part of Cee’s Flower Of The Day.

34 Replies to “Atmospheric Flowers: Blue Asters”

  1. Love them. I am very keen on sticking to the Latin for most plants so that we are all on the same page, but I still always think of them as Michaelmas daisies.

    1. I looked up one on the RHS website (‘Purple Dome’) and found more Latin names listed than folk names! But I know what you mean – the folk names are atmospheric but often used for entirely different plants in different areas.

  2. My New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae} are just coming into bloom here in Jackson, Mississippi. Neighbors are always astounded by the masses of cornflower blue flowers that cover what appears to be a low hedge most of the growing season.

  3. My colleague down south is a renowned landscape designer who know all about this sort of thing. There are a few plants and flowers that I would normally dislike, but some are important for their style and the atmosphere that they add. Pampas grass is one of the more obvious. No matter how much I dislike it, the style and ‘atmosphere’ that it contributes is undeniable. Bougainvillea does the same, but in the opposite manner.

    1. I used to really dislike red hot pokers, but there are so many interesting varieties these days that my heart has melted towards them.

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