More on Asters and Grasses

More on Asters and Grasses


I can’t help myself.


All last week, whenever I would step outside my front door, whether to get the mail or pick up the newspaper, I would run back into the house for my camera and take more photographs of all the asters.


Aromatic Aster and Prairie Dropseed next to my front steps.  As I said last week, Aromatic Aster (Aster oblongifolius) is my favorite aster. (Yes, I know it is now considered to be in the genus Symphyotrichum, but let’s not complicate things further.) It is native to the Midwest, but selectively so–it’s not found in the wild in Kane County where I live.  Its natural habitat is dry, calcareous hill prairies.

Mine thrives in my south-facing front garden and parkway garden, especially next to the calcareous sidewalks and streets.  Combine it with the brass and copper  and wine of Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis) and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), not only a ravishing composition, but one that is ecologically beneficial, as well.

The brilliant copper Prairie Baby’s Breath (Euphorbia corollata) is another “must” addition to this garden.  To my mind, azure and coral is one of the most striking color combinations in nature (think sunsets).

If you live in the Chicago region, contact Conservation@Home in DuPage/Kane County, Barrington Hills, or Lake County.  If you already have a ecologically sound garden, you are eligible for a plaque like this.  If not, a consultant will come to your house and provide simple, easy-to-implement steps to encourage conservation-friendly practices.    Get your whole neighborhood involved.


Southwest corner of my house.  Prairie Dropseed fills in the corner of the bed with Short’s Aster on this side and Smooth Blue and more Aromatic Aster in the background.

I wish I hadn’t planted Indian Grass in my small garden because of its aggressiveness–it pops up everywhere.  It does, however, make a stunning accent to any garden.

A path needs a visual stopping point at the end.  Smooth Blue Aster (Aster laevis) in the foreground.


In years past, Smooth Blue Aster has always leaned over…

…but this year, it stands upright.  Why now and not before?  Maturity, deeper roots, stronger stems, more crowded, or drier soil?

Smooth Blue Aster has migrated from along the west foundation of my house where I first planted it to magnificent abundance on my west parkway.

This little garden on my parkway next to the street never fails to amaze me.  Planted by birds and the wind, it consists of Switch Grass, Smooth Blue, Aromatic, and Hairy Aster (Aster pilosus), and Stiff Goldenrod.  Butterfly Weed, Black-eyed Susan, and Wild Petunia bloom here in the summer.

For more on asters, read last year’s blog:


Later this week, I promise to show you photographs of fiery fall foliage–this is a very good year for the scarlet’s, the carmine’s and and claret’s.


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