Fresh as a daisy: Michaelmas daisies add autumnal gaiety to any border | Daily Mail Online: The great strength of Michaelmas daisies, apart from the range of colours they provide, is that this is their time. Michaelmas, or the Feast of St Michael, falls on 29 September, so the plants are always associated with the start of autumn.
The easiest asters (to give Michaelmas daisies their botanical name) to grow are the novi-belgii cultivars.
- A novi-belgii 'Gurney Slade', 'Professor Anton Kippenberg' and 'Mistress Quickly'. All rich violets and purple and massed petals.
- In the pink shades, 'Coombe Gladys' and 'Lady Frances'.
- 'Dusky Maid', 'Winston S Churchill' and 'Prunella' - deep plum-coloured ones.
- New England asters, Aster novae-angliae , which are pretty much pest- and disease-resistant. 'Barr's Violet' is a good purple, as is 'Violetta'. 'Lou Williams' and 'Septemberrubin' are just on the pink side of plum.
- A amellus 'King George', 'Veilchenkönigin' has smaller flower heads but is deeper and more intense in colour, 'Nocturne', which has deep lilac flowers on 3ft tall stems.
- Aster x frikartii. Named the results after Swiss mountains. 'Jungfrau' and 'Eiger' remain good rich lilac/purples, the only real difference being that 'Jungfrau' is more compact and floriferous. 'Mönch'.
Flower focus | Life and style | The Observer: New York Asters.
Although they have been grown in Europe since the 17th century, New York Asters have only been seriously hybridised in the past 100 years. The result is a range of rich, intense colours that work perfectly against autumn's fading light. 'Gurney Slade' 'Mistress Quickly' and 'Professor Anton Kippenberg' are all violet and purple with massed petals, while 'Coombe Gladys' and 'Lady Francis' are halfway between magenta and purple. Even better are all the deep plum-coloured ones. Try 'Dusky Maid', 'Winston S Churchill' and 'Prunella'.
All New York Asters are prone to mildew, which covers the leaves in white fungus. To combat this, grow them in rich, damp soil. In thin, sandy soil it is also hard to avoid grey fungal rot which thrives in hot, dry conditions. It starts mid summer and can almost finish the plant off before it flowers. Best bet is to grow resistant varieties like Aster x frikartii which has long petals and loves very well-drained soil and Aster novae-angliae (from New England) which tends to come in pink. Both are amazingly tough and spread about a foot a year.
In focus: Asters - Telegraph:
The true 'Mönch' is hard to find, but a good nursery, such as Four Seasons or Cotswold Garden Flowers, should be able to supply the authentic form. Its blue daisies appear for almost four months, it needs no staking, and it is healthy.
Aster lateriflorus 'Horizontalis' looks distinguished at any time of year.
Most soils in sun or partial shade will suit asters.
If you give them too much nourishment, they will become lax and floppy.
Most varieties need staking, firmly. Autumn winds can make asters look very messy.
Division is best done in spring rather than in autumn. But you can also do it in August so that plants make new roots in warm soil.
Many of the old A. novi-belgii group are very invasive. If you are desperate to the kind of asters found in old gardens, try planting them in long grass, where they can look quite romantic.
Where to buy
Four Seasons Forncett St Mary, Norwich, Norfolk NR16 1JT (01508 488344; www.fsperennials.co.uk) - mail order only.
Cotswold Garden Flowers Sands Lane, Badsey, Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 5EZ (01386 833849; www.cgf.net).
To buy asters from greenfingers.com click here.
To buy asters from crocus.co.uk.
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