Return to the Garden: Asters Save the Day

On Saturday we flew back to Chicago from Japan. It was a 12 hour flight, during which I did not sleep at all. Nevertheless, I was fairly alert on the drive home from the airport, focused mainly on what we would find upon returning to the garden. My anxiety gradually rose as I took in the effects of Chicago’s record September heat wave and the abnormally dry conditions.

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Upon actually seeing the garden, though, the first thing that struck me was the veritable galaxy of light blue Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii) flowers in the Sidewalk Border.

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Clearly all was not lost.

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Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) was also blooming, providing a nice contrast to the Asters.

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However, most of the tiny Goldenrod flowers had already started to fade.

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A buzzing multitude of bees were all over the Aster blooms.

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New England Asters (S. novae-angliae), lanky and leaning even after being cut back in June, were blooming in the Front Island Bed.

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They looked down on the Short’s Asters and Brown-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia triloba) which were settled in toward the middle of the bed.

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Rudbeckias (mainly R. triloba and R. fulgida) were still blooming in the Parkway Bed and elsewhere, but they looked rather droopy due to the hot, dry weather.

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I was actually surprised that the Helenium autumnale ‘Mardi Gras’ is holding up as well as it is. Here it’s combined with a mix of Short’s Aster and Aromatic Aster (S. oblongifolius). Aromatic Aster flowers tend to be a shade darker and a little fuller than Short’s Aster – and it tends to be shorter, also.

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I was really pleased that the Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia) were holding up pretty well. They actually like the heat, of course.

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I had cut them back moderately before leaving, which turns out to have been a good idea.

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After sleeping 12 hours on Saturday night, I set about deadheading and otherwise grooming the Mexican Sunflowers on Sunday, an activity I always find satisfying. I saw a couple of Monarchs and American Lady butterflies but didn’t get any pictures.

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Actually, I had all kinds of ideas about how much work I would get done in the garden my first day back. However, it wasn’t long before my ambitions started a hasty retreat. In the end, I got all the bird feeders and baths filled and got our little fountain going again, and that was all. I think it will take me a while to get over the jet lag.

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Let’s see, what else? Well, the Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) was blooming nicely if a bit sparsely.

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The grasses were looking pretty good, especially the Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).

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All in all, it was good to be back in the garden, despite the unexpected heat and dryness.

That’s all for now.

54 Comments on “Return to the Garden: Asters Save the Day”

  1. Asters and Goldenrods, a perfect combination! Take your time deadheading, it taks a long time to get over jet lag! Your garden looks amazing considering the heat you have been having, plants are wonderful, coping with whatever is thrown at them.

  2. The asters are a lovely sight to welcome you home! I also really like your Northern Sea Oats and Rudbeckia combination shown in your last photo. We have had a lot of high heat and humidity, but cooler, drier air will arrive in a few days. I am looking forward to being able to enjoy gardening again.

  3. I also had a 12 hours flight back to Germany and couldn’t sleep. Fortunately my son was able to drive home the car. During our stay in Japan it became cool and rainy here. It was about 11 pm when we finally landed in Nuremberg, outside temperature about 10°C. My son, still in shorts and t-shirt, started to freeze during the walk to our car. When we arrived there, he said: “Ok, Mom, now I’m awake, I can drive.” 🙂
    By the way, Jason, have you also been in Asakusa on Wed, Sept 6? We were there in the morning, but after we had lunch it started to rain. Then we left Asakusa and went to the Edo-Tokyo-Museum. Have you also seen it?

  4. Yup, we’ve had the heat and dryness here as well – things are not doing too badly considering but I am having to do a lot of watering on the transplanted trees and a few perennials I planted in the border a few weeks ago. I have a feeling that those gardens where the soil vs the plants are “fed” with amendments and compost are fairing much better than those where Miracle Grow is the norm. And the photo of the Tithonia blossom is simply perfect.

  5. Wow, your plants look great considering you’ve had a drought. We’ve had a drought here as well. Everyone around us got rain but we went about a month without any. I’m worn with watering. Hope you got the anticipated rain on Wednesday.

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