“Desperate for Asters”

Aster 'Professor Anton Kippenberg'

Aster ‘Professor Anton Kippenberg’

Yesterday I had a lovely day out with my friend Victoria.  Firstly we went to Hampton Court which I blogged about last week but the main purpose for our excursion was because Victoria was “desperate” to buy Asters and was despairing of finding any apart from the bulk standard dwarf varieties that you find in garden centres.  I had promised her a trip to Old Court Nursery over the hill from me in Colwall which is home to a national collection of Aster novae-angliae and is known for the variety of asters it grows, breeds and sells.


We were a little early in the aster season to see the national collection in full flower but they should look amazing in a week or so.

Michaelmas Daisy Fairy

Michaelmas Daisy Fairy

Throughout the garden are willow sculptures by local sculptor Victoria Westaway and I particularly like the Michaelmas Daisy Fairy which is a centrepiece.


I was intrigued to visit the Picton Garden as I know Helen and Ross have had a major overhaul and the last time I was there in late April/early May the majority of the garden was bare soil where Ross had been clearing with a digger. At the time I thought they were mad but as you can see from the photos in this post they weren’t and the planting is stunning considering how recently it was put in.


I love the way they have planted the asters amongst other late summer perennials including grasses to show how well they work in a mixed herbaceous border. The aster, Japanese anemone and crocosmia combination above was one of my favourites.


You can see how well the aster work with grasses and it is a pity they aren’t incorporated more into the new perennial plantings schemes, often called prairie planting.


The planting also reinforced my feeling that I need more blues and yellows/oranges in my borders. We were meant to be looking at varieties that might work in Victoria’s garden and I wanted to get some shorter varieties to go in front of some tall asters I had bought a few years back who needed their feet disguised but I was so distracted by the planting I kept forgetting to look at particular plants.


We did notice that some varieties were more prone to sprawling than others so would be in need of staking more.  In my garden where tall plants seem to mysteriously develop a leaning nature I have to be wary of the taller plants or deploy a lot of stakes so the more self-supporting varieties are needed.  Some of the varieties that sprawl seem to do it more gracefully than others and it is therefore good to see them growing in a mixed herbaceous border so you can see how they grow and which will suit your own garden best.


I am pleased to report that we came away with a car full of plants and both pleased with our purchases.

16 Comments on ““Desperate for Asters”

  1. We were talking the other day about visiting Picton Gardens, having read about it on line. We have earmarked a day nearer the end of September for visiting, hoping the weather will be fine. From the gardens website it looks to be a fantastic garden and I know I will come away with a car bootful of plants!

    • Hi Pauline
      Late September should be excellent, its a little early at the moment. Am back there in a couple of weeks so will let you know

  2. Really Helen – I don’t believe you that you would come away with a csrload of plants!!! I had a few nice ones in my last garden but they didn’t make it to here. I must look out for some! Lots of spring growth here, my worm farm had lots of rain through it so bucketed it into my large container and gave some to hostas etc. Can;t see any wee bits poking up. Must go and see Tulip Festival at Eden Gardens! Saw 2 small tropical gardens with Garden Club other day, lots of palms, broms, air plants etc plus lots of privacy and a pool in each. Great what you can do with small space. Resort style in Whangapararoa! Auckland – NZ!

  3. I am loving your blog, I also loved your review of the Bee book. Would you be interested in reviewing my latest book? Gardening Shoes of Great Britain?

  4. That aster, Japanese anemone and crocosmia combination really does work well, I’ve made a note of it. All of them are spreaders though. There will be a fight!

    • Hi RD
      Arh but if they get too much you can always move them!

  5. That aster, Japanese anemone and crocosmia combination is gorgeous, isn’t it? Must earmark this for a day out as well…

    • Hi Charlie
      I have encountered a good number of nurserymen over the last 18 months and it is surprising how many there are in this area. Even Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter fame commented at a meeting how horticulturally rich the area was.

  6. Oh now that must have been a most enjoyable and inspiring visit Helen. I still have vivid recollections of our first trip to the Picton Garden, which must have been after the autumn Malvern Show. It was simply quite magical. You’ve forgotten one important piece of information 🙂 What plants came home with you?

    • Hi Anna

      I knew you would ask that – I will let you know when I next blog as I have already planted some and the others should go in this weekend! How organised am I!

  7. Hi Helen, Glad to read you had a good day out with Victoria – while I am not a huge aster fan … my eye was caught by the wonderful plant with pink flowers in the last image – Salvia? Salvia Oxyphora? Do you know what it was?

    • Hi Karen
      Sorry cant help you with the salvia? Wasnt really looking at them.

  8. I loved seeing the Aster beds pre-bloom. I always wondered if national collections are shown in that way or mixed into the garden design. It would appear that both concepts are employed. I don’t think we have those kind of grand collections in the U.S.

    • Hi Linda
      I have seen national collections displayed both ways, I suspect it depends on the owners preference and also the growing conditions needed but I think it is good to see the plants growing amongst other plants as it helps to see how they would work in your own garden.

  9. I love michaelmas daisies especially those that do not get powdery mildew such as Aster novi anglae types although some are a bit tall. Purple Mound is a nice one that needs no staking.
    my very favourite aster is Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen”

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