Late-flowering Asters in the Foerster Garden
– auf Deutsch lesen – Last Sunday I went to the Foerster Garden in Bornim on the edge of Potsdam. Over the past 30 years I have visited it on numerous occasions, every visit an enjoyable one. There is always something beautiful that attracts my attention, regardless of season. During the long summer months it is continually billowing with flowers from many of Foerster key feature plants like Delphium, Phlox and Helenium cultivars, but I particularly love visiting in autumn, as the garden is exceptionally colourful.
Even in the second half of October, there are still numerous perennials only just starting to flower. These late perennials, combined with grasses and some good dried flower structures, set against a glowing backdrop of autumn colour, can almost make it look kitschy at times.
Colour in the Autumn Garden
Some years ago, the autumn garden was re-instated. A garden area which had become a parking area, was put back to its original purpose: A garden dedicated to late colour. Amongst large Miscanthus stand bold groups of asters and Chrysanthemums such as the pale-yellow Chrysanthemum ‘Poesie’ that provides a fresh complement to the blues of the asters. other late stars find their place here too. Leucanthemella serotina is a delightful autumn-flowering tall daisy, with clean white petals, and sunny yellow center. Think about where you plant these, as the flowers turn their faces to the sun, though backlit they can be equally beautiful. In the nearby rockgarden there is a similar fresh white daisy, but this one growing to 35cm, instead of reaching 1,80m, Arctanthemum arcticum. There is also a pale, softest pink form A. arcticum ‘Roseum’. Both are perfect autumnal front-of border plants, or for a rockery. In the shadier areas of the Autumn Garden the Anemones add a clear, clean touch, fronted by the intense blue Ceratostigma plumbaginoides and bold Bergenia which are used to support the lanky necks of autumn Crocusses.
Massed planting in the Sunken Garden
I must admit to always having had my reservations about the way many perennials are massed together in the sunken garden. Several cultivars of one genus will be planted together, to create a large bold mass of flowers. Particularly the plants of which Karl Foerster selected numerous cultivars are massed like this. My worry is that it then leaves holes in the border at certain times of year, though here that has never bothered me. On the contrary, this time I loved a bright, bold bank of different asters, supplemented with some very showy dahlia and pinkish-red Chrysanhemum indicum ‘cinderella’, that really drew the eye and created a warm, happy feeling at the sight of so much cheer!
Which Asters are flowering in the second half of October?
Several Dumosus-Asters are reaching their peak. These are mostly hybrids related to the novi-belgii group of asters:
- ‘Apollo’ flowers white, fading to soft violet-pink, reaches 40 cm, and is a vigorous healthy cultivar
- ‘Herbstgruß von Breserhof’ bares lilac-pink flowers, 40cm, floriferous and healthy
- ‘Zwergenhimmel’ can reach up to 50 cm, pale violet blue, with numerous flowers, and is also strong and healthy
- ‘Mittelmeer’ is a delightful soft violet-blue, which creates a fresh and bright effect, thanks to its numerous flowers. It has proved to be not quite as healthy as the previous three cultivars, in the 2005 trial conducted by the German Perennial Plant Trials Staudensichtung.
- ‘Starlight’ proved only moderately healthy in the trials, but produces good-coloured purple flowers.
Amongst the taller asters, suited to a position in the second or third row are some good colours.
Two personal favourites are Aster novi-belgii ‘Le Vasterival’ and Aster laevis ‘Anneke van der Jeugd’. They have similar airy characters, with fresh-coloured flowers. Both share the bad habit of producing extensive runners. This can be stopped by giving them a root barrier. The problem can be a blessing in gardens where voles are problematic. The survival chances of plants with such invasive rootsystems are much higher.
Another novi-belgii aster that caught my eye is ‘Schöne von Dietlikon’. As it comes into flower, the yellow centre changes to a warm orange red colour, that creates an attractive contrast with the purple petals.
A few novi-angliae cultivars bring good colour contrast in the predominantly mauves, purples and blues of the autumn asters.
- Aster novi-angliae ‘Herbstschnee’. A floriferous mass of pure white flowers making it a useful brightening plant
- Aster novi-angliae ‘Rosa Sieger’ has a delicate almost salmon pink colour that also adds great fresh-ness at a time of year borders can quickly look tired
- Aster novi-angliae ‘Andeken an Alma Pötschke‘ has long been one of my absolute favourites, as I am so grateful for its punchy bright flowers.
In total contrast to the above, there is a small, low-growing Aster that is perfect for tumbling down the edges of a wall or over the rim of a pot: Aster pansus ‘Snow Flurry’. It has tiny starry white flowers and a very neat compact habit.
Your garden should not be dull at this time of year! Go out and visit a garden or nursery, and find yourself some heart-warming colour!