Aster novae-angliae types predominate in the garden, tending to be taller, stronger and more mildew-resistant Michaelmas daisies than their cousins, the Aster novibelgii types. Aster novi-belgii Neron, however, is a favourite: ‘It erupts in September, with in-yourface magenta,’ explains Dr Ward. Asters mix harmoniously with each other within their natural colour palette. ‘Rich, dark purples, such as Dark Desire and Violetta, look brilliant with softer Harrington’s Pink or lipsticky Alma Potschke,’ he enthuses.
He deliberately selects pink- and plum-hued grasses that enhance the asters when in flower. Miscanthus Flamingo, for example, has pink-turning-silver flower plumes that add 6ft shots of colour. The more compact, deeper tones of Miscanthus Purple Falls are highly recommended and interspersed throughout the beds are wispier grasses such as Molinia Skyracer, smokey-blue Windspiel and crimson-tipped Panicum virgatum Shenandoah.