Skip to main content


Moving Schipka Laurel for Rhododendron 'Loderi King George'

Picture it - a 6 ft. tall Schipka Laurel used to stand here (I forgot to take a "before" shot and don't feel like searching for one).  I knew when I planted it that it was probably a bad idea but thought it would be good for a fast-growing screen along the back fence-row. I'm sure all gardeners do this, especially if you have a new garden and are eager for greenery. In all fairness to the laurel, it is a useful plant and I would argue even a beautiful one when nicely maintained. Before I dug this one up, I stood back and admired it and felt the guilt pangs stabbing at my heart.  I removed a much larger laurel than this a few years ago and they are not the easiest plant to dig out. I was determined to save this one and I believe I was successful.  Here is a thought and you can take this to the bank - the pot you choose to hold a plant that you dig up will ALWAYS be too small. Always!  So, after finding the largest pot I could, here it is, after being cut back pretty dr


Aster 'Kickin Purple' 
For fall perennials, asters are hard to beat and I've just recently went a bit crazy over them. I've always admired the half-hardy types that appear in garden centers alongside the chrysanthemums for seasonal color in pots. I don't remember having any of the hardier varieties in the old garden but I've added several in the garden here. According to my spread sheet, I have at least five varieties.

The latest is pictured above (Aster 'Kickin Purple'). The "Kickin' series offers a more compact plant that hopefully stays neat and tidy. Advertised as growing only 2' x 2', it appears to adhere to that size so far. There are about six or seven different colors in the series.

The first aster I planted was the old standby Aster frikartii 'Monch'. I have several along the fence border that runs alongside the street. It is the earliest blooming aster and I've seen flowers as early as late July. Normally, the flowers last way up through fall but this year they had faded before I got a chance to photograph them. I've heard people say that it flops badly but I have not had that happen. Full sun exposure helps to counter that problem and you can also cut them back in early summer to stunt the growth.

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
If I had to choose a favorite aster, I would probably go with Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'. This is a variety of the New England Aster. The plants are generally loaded with blooms although looking at the photo above, they appear more sparse this year. The color of the blooms are really rich and saturated.

Aster 'Wood's Purple' 
Another favorite is 'Wood's Purple', another compact variety. The photo above was taken last year but this year's flowers were just as lovely. 

Aster pringlei 'Monte Cassino White'

Aster 'Monte Cassino White' blooms much later than the aforementioned varieties. Flowers just opened about two weeks ago. This is a beautiful white aster with tiny, profuse flowers and reminds me of ones you'd see growing along the roadside.

Aster lateriflorus 'Prince' 
Last, but not least, is another late bloomer, Aster 'Prince', also known as the "Calico aster". This one is much different from the others, with dark burgundy foliage. At first, the plant doesn't look that impressive but when it achieves full bloom, which it does just a few days after the first blooms appear, it is literally smothered with tiny white flowers. 

Now, if I don't have enough already, I would like to get a pink variety to go in the Pan Garden in back. I've noticed a few on the Joy Creek website that I am putting on my wishlist.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. You do have a nice collection of Asters. I have a few but I don't know the names of most of them. I have to cut them back because they don't get full sun but they do bloom nice anyway.

  2. You grow such beautiful plants. What's your secret? Food? Selection? Expertise? TLC?

  3. When I first moved to northern California from San Diego I went a bit mad for Asters-they were pretty much an unknown down in zone 10. This was 30 years ago, and in a former garden , but in the last few years I've been increasing my aster inventory. I concur with your opinion of 'Purple Dome' - I have 3 which is a big commitment in my small garden.

  4. You have a spread sheet? I thought saving the plant tags in a box (for 20 years) was a good system... My hat off to your commitment to organization!
    I do love Aster: little care and great rewards as it light up the garden in Autumn. I should consider later booming varieties to extend the bloom period even later into the season.

  5. What a wonderful selection! I especially like your Woods Purple, and I really like how it looks with the neighboring plants. It is a beautiful combination.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts