Saturday, September 20, 2014
Asters and goldenrod provide much of the wild flower color at this time of year here. We drove far out of our way today to revisit this stand of New York Asters. It is by far the most impressive group of these flowers that we have ever found. A small stream winds downhill alongside of the asters. Their requirement for ample moisture is satisfied by this stream and its presence may explain the size of this group. Beautiful in their own right, they pale by comparison to our next subject.
New England Asters are also common here growing alongside of roads. Where roadside ditch water if frequent, their displays are impressively large. If they grow in a dry meadow, a single stalk is frequently seen. Their combination of purple and yellow appears to me as the perfect flower. These photo subjects were moved into the garden long ago.
Given rich garden soil they soon display huge plants tenaciously holding onto a large area of the planting bed. Frequent division is required to keep the clumps under control. If one remembers to pinch them back, a more proper mound of color can be created. Our herd of deer tend to this task in random locations. We often promise ourselves to attend to pinching back next year but frequently overlook this important job. Perhaps next year will be the year we see controlled flowering.
This is a naturally occurring color sport of a New England Aster. We frequently see them growing wild alongside of the roads. So far we have resisted successfully the temptation to harvest someone else's beautiful plant. This one was found growing in one of our meadows. It was moved into the garden. With luck, we should be able to take divisions next Spring. This plant is a genuine treasure.
There are several different varieties of wild white asters. We call this a Snow Aster but place no faith in the accuracy of our identification. This specimen is low growing alongside of our lane. We have other white asters that reach more than four feet in height and are invasive. This plant may be limited in size by its location in gravel washed from the road. There is still much to learn here.
A hard frost will end aster season but with luck we may be weeks away from the killing frost. As a last source of pollen, these flowers are also popular with the bees. We will all enjoy them while we may.
When we pulled off the road to take the first picture, we disturbed a Great Blue Heron that was working in a pool in the stream. It flew up directly in front of us with little distance separating people and bird. These massive birds are truly impressive as they gracefully but powerfully gain altitude. The pickup truck following us barely passed beneath the rising bird. Seeing the bird safely pass behind the trees added to the special sights of this day.