I did it again. Bought more plants, that is. A few days ago, I was declaring my relief that the gardening season was coming to an end. All it took were the words “Buy One, Get One” and “Asters” and I was out the door, driving an hour south to one of my favorite places on Earth, Woldhuis Farms Sunrise Greenhouse, to grab eight asters for the price of four. I called first to make sure they had the variety I wanted. Quantity was limited, she said, which evoked an urgency on par with the flood of emotion likely felt by Imelda Marcos, wife of ousted Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, when she learned her shoe shopping days were over (at the time, she had over 1,000 pairs of shoes in her closet).
So I went. Fast.
At just $3.99/ plant, I scored eight Wood’s Blue asters for $16, a far cry from the tens of thousands of dollars Imelda spent on Chanel and Dior shoes. An addiction, nonetheless. Just a far more affordable one that saves the bees. How’s that for justification?
I have an arborvitae on the west side of my front yard that’s been perfectly fine as it is for 10 years, until recently it seemed a skirt would add a finishing touch. In the same way a pair of Jimmy Choo or Manolo heels would for a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. The asters and the shoes aren’t necessary, but an aster skirt would make the arborvitae, as my grandpa used to say, “more better.” And now that they’re planted, I think it definitely does. The pollinators do too.
I’ve had other asters over the years, but their legginess was unappealing and I dislike the extra work of pinching them back regularly to control their size. It’s one more task I try to remember but often forget. Case in point, I had a planting of Alma Potschke asters that wanted to be three feet tall and was often covered with powdery mildew by July despite good air circulation. The fuchsia flowers were lovely and the pollinators frenzied over them but the plant was just too big and required more time than I had. By the end of their final season in the garden, they’d spilled over the border and looked like a mess of weeds. Something tidier was in order.
At a tidy 15″-18″ tall and wide, Wood’s Blue aster checks the boxes for size, bloom time, pollinator friendliness and a propensity to thrive in clay soil, as asters are known to do. Other members of the series include Wood’s Pink and Wood’s Purple. All have better resistance to powdery mildew and rust. Three weeks after planting, they’re thriving and the pollinators have found them. I’ve crossed asters off my wish list.
And just between you and me, I crossed off a climbing hydrangea and a Guernsey Cream clematis, too. I blame the Impatient Gardener (scroll down her post to catch a photo of this stunning climber) who reminded me of the sudden availabilty of this hard-to-find clematis from a mail-order nursery. Afterall, every addict needs someone to blame.
I think Imelda would agree.
What are you coveting/planting right now?