Monday, November 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Walking aster

A true late bloomer

Walking aster

Here's a late bloomer for you: Aster carolinianis or walking aster, and it's just beginning to bloom in my garden. This plant has the typical aster blossom - about an inch across, purple with yellow center - but its "habit" looks almost nothing like the other asters we see in fall. Mine is two years old. It did nothing last year. This year it branched out in a wild sort of way, no straight stems, more like wands sprawling every which way, out and up about six feet. No wonder the "experts" sometimes call it "unorthodox." It's a climber, but not like a typical vine. It doesn't twine, it has no suckers or aerials. Its long, arching stems sort of scramble through whatever's nearby. My climbing aster is on the end of a wide, but narrow raised bed that originally had herbs in it. Over the last two seasons, I've added climbing and shrub roses, a grape vine, a passion flower vine and an odd assortment of blue fescue, santolina and butterfly flower. A friend with lots more gardening experience recognized my climbing aster immediately and said it was placed in a perfect spot. But it's a rather unruly tenant, and being on the edge of the raised bed, it sometimes reaches into the hair of dinner guests on the patio. Nothing like a little horticultural outreach! Supposedly the walking aster, which likes sun to part shade and is in full sun chez moi, can get up to 12 feet tall. Talk to you next year.

I have to say, even if it takes over the patio, it's kind of an interesting plant, and so far it holds the record for "last thing to bloom in the garden." It's also a looker. But what now? There are still hundreds of buds on this bush. Wonder if we'll get to see them all.

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Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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