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 thoughts on “Atmospheric Flowers: Blue Asters

  1. Vicki says:

    They, and the photo of them, are gorgeous.

    I know them so well from the Royal Botanic Gardens here, but all my images are closer than yours.

    One of the things I love about them is that their colour can look so very different in bright sunlight as compared to shade. I guess Photography really highlights that as opposed to the naked eye 🙂

  2. Laurie Graves says:

    I love those little stars. In Maine, they mostly grow wild by the side of the road, and they are a most welcome sight in the fall. The last of the flowers, really. It was only recently that I learned that Michaelmass daisy was another name for asters, the only name they have here in Maine. Such a nice description of how your younger self appreciated the flowers.

  3. Heyjude says:

    They are very beautiful, but don’t last long in my garden (container). I shall have to try removing them this year and plant them in the ground where they might fare better.

  4. calensariel says:

    Blue flowers always puzzle me. It’s hard to find a true blue flower. Most everything we have here has a purple cast to it. What is the bluest flower you know of? I love planting red, white, an blue together.

    • susurrus says:

      You’ve made me think I really ought to write a post about that. My gut reaction would be gentians or blue poppies. Some of those have a special kind of blueness. But you’re right – often flowers with blue in their names (roses or hardy geraniums or spring anemones) are decidedly purple.

  5. Oddment says:

    Michaelmas daisies! I’ve never heard the name, but I like it a lot more than “aster.” These are as lovely in the background as in the foreground, and I bet they make a very classy cardigan boutonniere.

  6. Chloris says:

    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.

    • susurrus says:

      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.

  7. rustydog75 says:

    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.

  8. tonytomeo says:

    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.

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