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The Season of Asters: GBBD, September 2020

September 18, 2020

orange bounty last hurrahAs August turned into September, someone flipped a switch in Maine from summer to fall. Our unusually hot summer gave way to cool days and overnight lows in the thirties and forties (Fahrenheit). The garden is starting to get a fall look to go with the fall temperatures. The tall summer phlox are fading fast. My very late daylilies failed to make flowers this year, which leaves ‘Orange Bounty’ as the last daylily blooming. A few late roses are also in bloom.

late roses

Many plants that have been blooming for weeks are still going strong. heliopsis bountyThis is especially true of the false sunflowers (Heliopsis helianthoides), which had a banner year this year. There are also still flowers on Geranium x oxonianum, Callirhoe involucrata, and Coreopsis lanceolata. The many self-sown plants of Monarda punctata (spotted beebalm) continue to show off their pink bracts and spotted yellow flowers.

coreopsis still blooming monarda punctata still blooming

Some sedums begin to bloom at this time of year, and I’ve been enjoying the flowers of Sedum spectabile ‘Neon’ and Sedum ‘Matrona.’

sedum neon 2020 sedum matrona 2020

liatris aspera & heliopsisThe real stars of the fall garden, however, are the members of the aster family. These include the tall spires of Liatris aspera and Liatris ligulistylis blooming among the false sunflowers (which are also members of the aster clan). Many wildflowers blooming around the edges of my garden at this time of year are members of the aster family, including at least two species of goldenrod (Solidago) and some wild asters.

stiff flax-leaved aster Stiff aster (Ionactis linarifolia) is the first aster to bloom in my garden each year in late summer. It is a native wildflower that grows happily in my sandy soil and which I have transplanted into the garden.
Narrow-leaved ironweed (Vernonia lettermanii) is just beginning to open it’s tiny asters. vernonia opening

The big aster show will be provided by the New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). These have also just begun to open their first flowers, but they are loaded with buds, promising lots of color in the weeks to come.

NE aster buds NE aster opening

I am even later than usual this month to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, which is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. From her blog, you can link to September floral displays in many gardens.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. krispeterson100 permalink
    September 19, 2020 3:23 pm

    I do love than Monarda. I wish we had a switch to turn summer into fall here, Jean! I enjoyed your beautiful aster family reunion. Oddly, my California native aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) has been blooming since June – I’m not sure what prompted its early arrival, or its stubborn insistence on continuing to bloom.

    • September 22, 2020 11:23 am

      Kris, I love the asters, and it’s a treat that they arrive just as so many plants are headed into winter dormancy here. They’re not even much fazed by overnight lows down into the twenties. An aster blooming early and persistently seems like one of those gifts that should just be welcomed.

  2. September 19, 2020 5:57 pm

    ?! I would not have guessed that Liatris is of Asteraceae!

    • September 22, 2020 11:25 am

      Tony, I had the same reaction when I realized that Solidago is in the Asteraceae family. I found it mind boggling that each of those tiny flowers on a single goldenrod inflorescence was itself a composite of many even tinier disk and ray flowers. Liatris is even trickier because it has only ray and no disk flowers.

  3. September 19, 2020 8:58 pm

    Wow! Your garden is wonderful and your knowledge of flowers is very impressive!

    Feel free to share at My Corner of the World

    • September 22, 2020 11:29 am

      Hi Betty, Since I retired from my career as a teacher, I’ve been continuing to “go to school” by taking courses in botany and horticulture. Getting to put that new knowledge into action in my garden is fun! Thanks for visiting. At this stage of my life I’m afraid the closest I’m going to get to visiting your corner of the world is through your blog and by watching NZ television shows on Acorn TV. 😉

  4. September 23, 2020 9:37 am

    Hello Jean, it looks like you have still so much in flower. Asters are very good for late summer colour. Various tropicals like Dahlias and Cannas are also great for late summer vibrant colour but I guess are much more difficult to keep alive over the winter where you are. We’re having a late flush of roses and there are some perennials in flower but most are from the annuals we have in pots on the patio, they’ll keep going until I need to clear the patio for its annual maintenance, which I hope it still some time off yet.

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