AsterMan rescues the fall garden!

One of the things I like most about fall weather is that it brings out the fall-blooming asters. They seem to pop-up out of nowhere in natural prairies and the pine lands of the Central Gulf Coastal area this time of year. Some of them may never be considered for a garden, but some should.

One of the most prolific weeds in my yard is the wonderful Woods Aster or Button Aster, Aster Dumosus. Its a prolific plant that seeds itself all over the place. Its a weed, basically. I have come to recognize it in a seedling stage of growth so I am always looking out for more and trying to keep them as often as I can. The bees seem think it is exceptional, too, they are all over an aster, any aster, when its in bloom. I very much appreciate its ornamental qualities. Woods Aster is a lacey, fine-cut thing, with white flower rays surrounding a darker central yellow- then reddish disk. It mostly sprawls about, leaning this way and that but occasionally it makes a perfectly rounded three feet ball in the landscape, covered with hundreds of tiny white flowers,   …and bees.

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the demure but very worthy Aster dumosus is a good addition to the wildlife garden.

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a honey bee works a tiny flower of Aster dumosus in my garden. above

Asters are not easily identified generally, but some have particular characteristics that set them apart from others and can be easily placed with a proper name. I can usually ID about a half dozen of the multitude we have in or wildscapes. A few have really solid ornamental value and should be offered more often, for sale.

One that should is the Carolina Climbing Aster or Aster carolinianus (not native to the Central GC). It is very beautiful and a fun plant to work with. I got one last spring in a one gallon container when shopping at Mary Elliot’s Fronderosa Gardens Nursery in Hammond, Louisiana. I knew just where it would go when I saw it. So in it went and a few times this summer, maybe just a couple, I took a few minutes to guide, to train it up one of my Scarecrow faced sculptures. The one I was working with is a ceramic face on a cedar post, standing about nine feet tall near the front door of the house here in Covington. The scarecrow torso is made of old barbed wire, coiled and tacked to the post. The climbing aster grew up through the wire and reached to the “neck” of the sculpture, named Phine Phellow (Fine Fellow).

Its really has been fun to watch it almost on its own, reach the top in a single growing season. And then it bloomed. How nice a display of glorious pink color and bee activity it is.

Its like mild-mannered Phine Phellow ducked into a phone both and changed into Aster Man, Attractor of the Bees, over night.

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above: AsterMan a month or so ago in foliage of green.

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Check him out in his new stealthy suit, ya’ll! He’s gone pink! 🙂

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A Monarch loads-up with Carolina Aster nectar before continuing on her trip south, November 4th, 2014.

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 Aster carolinianus

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