Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (aka Aster novae-angliae)

Bright purple daisies with contrasting golden yellow centers adorn these shrubby perennials from August until October. Growing to four feet high and wide, the plants tend to sprawl unless staked. Stems bear long, lance-shaped leaves of dull green. Numerous cultivars have been developed with a wider range of flower colors, including pinks, fuchsia, and lavender.

As their name implies, New England asters are native to damp thickets and meadows of the northeast. They do well in Colorado as long as they have amended soil and regular irrigation. Don’t keep the ground soggy, however, as that encourages infection by fungal diseases. Plant purchased seedlings or rooted cuttings in full sun. Larger areas may be direct seeded in fall; cold winter temperatures are necessary for germination to occur. Pinch back stems early in the season to promote branching, but stop when buds begin to form in mid-summer.

Landscape Use
Their medium height and less-than-ideal foliage makes New England asters perfect for the middle of a perennial border. Try pairing them with other late bloomers with similar watering requirements. Tall sunflowers (both annuals and perennials) make a lovely backdrop, while goldenrod contrasts in color and form. Combining purple asters with ornamental grasses in copper and russet tones is especially pleasing.

Article and photo by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener.

For a wrap-up of other areas and what’s been blooming, check out:
Blooming in Monument Valley Park – All Posts.

I am pleased and surprised to be able to share four new blooming plants this week!

Start at the parking lot where Fontanero Street ends at the park, and start heading west down the hill.


Brickellia grandiflora

About halfway down the hill, on the north side of the road/path under a white fir, look for some pale yellow flowers that dangle down from their stems. This is the native tasselflower (Brickellia grandiflora). Although it is usually more often found on rocky slopes, canyon sides, or cliffs, I saw this in three different areas of the park. Sometimes the flowers can be a bit more greenish. It can be easy to overlook, so really keep your eyes open for this one.