I re-read this great book recently with my book group. The author decided to study botany as a young college student because she wanted to find out why asters and goldenrods like to grow together. They certainly are a perfect color combination in our fields, roadsides and gardens. And perfectly native to New England!

  • Aster divaricatus 
    (White wood aster) likes dry woods and clearings, among the first to bloom, short, can act as an effective groundcover over time
  • Aster novae-angliae 
    (New England aster) blooms late September into October, purple flowers, very tall
  • Aster novi-belgii
    (New York aster) is short and full, purple or pink
  • Solidago caessia
    (Wreath goldenrod) is an arching,wreath-like goldenrod with small yellow flowers in the leaf axils
  • Solidago speciosa 
    (Showy goldenrod) has large heads, tall

I’m not as fond of the tall Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) that blooms early in fields and wild places. This plant has running roots that soon take over the garden. That’s why you’ll see me digging it out if I find it among your perennials. However, this plant fills a valuable niche in wide open spaces. And if you think goldenrod gives one hay fever, not true! It is the lowly ragweed that is the culprit!

Asters have long been my favorite flower, so I can’t wait until my collection begins to bloom this week. I’m on the late side due to the shade factor, but I have everything staked and ready. Staking is a necessity, even though I pinch the asters back twice before July 4, just in case of heavy wind and rain from a fall hurricane. Once these plants splay open, they are very hard to stake, so hopefully, you started early on this project. I overlooked one plant and have a big note to catch it next June. In the meantime, it can be a vase flower when it blooms.

If you are interested in pollinator gardening, these plants are a MUST for your garden. New studies are showing that the straight species plants (as outlined above) have far more nutritional value for pollinators than named varieties with showy colors, adjusted heights or double flowers. Stay tuned as the debate continues on this topic between growers and scientists!

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