I am ridiculously happy every fall when the asters start busting out around here.
One of my favorites, the New England aster (Symphyothichum novae-angliae), is just starting to bloom.
I first learned of this aster when I was in college. I was having difficulty keying out a beautiful royal purple aster because I couldn’t possibly believe that a New England aster was growing in Mississippi!
But it was indeed!
It turns out that New England aster ranges from Canada south to Mississippi and Alabama.
New England aster is a great garden plant but in the wild I have learned to look for it in sites with prairie soils.
A couple of years ago as I was driving to visit my mother I spied a nice little stand of New England aster in full bloom. As expected, they were growing in a prairie remnant.
I stopped to admire them and made note of the location.
I returned a few weeks later and gathered seed.
Asters can be difficult from seed. Some years the seed look viable but most are empty.
This time, however, I hit the jackpot and ended up with a whole flat of little New England Aster seedlings.
I have one of these planted out front in the driveway bed.
I walk past it every day and usually pause to admire the beautiful fringed flowers.
The bumble bees are often lingering nearby as well.
New England aster is a great nectar plant for bees and monarch butterflies.
Plants are robust and can reach 6′ height in full sun.
I’ve always wanted to go to New England to see the fall color.
For this year anyway, a trip to the front yard is as far as I’ll need to go.