One plant, three ways Team asters with actaea, gypsophila or sedums for a range of atmospheric effects
Team these dainty autumn daisies with sedums, gypsophila or actaea for a range of pretty partnerships, says Melissa Mabbitt
Smauve, oft, sparkling asters, with their tiny, often slightly shaggy daisy flowers, billow out of borders in clouds of rich blue and magenta this month. They’re invaluable for introducing colour and texture to the autumn garden, but need careful positioning; the mass of small flowers can blend into a nebulous lump in isolation, but give them the right partner plants and their delicate airiness will shine. Playing with contrasting forms creates a look that’s pretty and distinctive. Mingled with the chunky flat cushions of sedum (hylotelephium) or elegant starry spires of actaea, the daisy-shaped aster stands out in contrast. Teamed with buoyant white baby’s breath (gypsophila), the asters’ moody blue hues morph from misty to almost metallic. It’s also wise to consider your plants’ growing conditions. Asters like free-draining soil but struggle with mildew if they get too dry, so enrich your soil with organic matter to help retain moisture. Sedums meanwhile will cope with slightly drier soil and are useful partners for these autumn allstars. Asters vary in height from dainty kneehigh daisies to billowing plumes that tower overhead, so choose planting partners that reach the right height. Push hazel sticks into the ground around the clump to create naturalistic support for taller cultivars, or use a metal growing ring, which the stems will soon hide. It’s also worth growing shorter, leafier plants in front of an aster to hide its lower leaves, which can become shabby. Aim for your partner plant to grow up and through the aster flowers, planting at least three of each in a staggered group so their forms mix and mingle with one another.
Give asters the right partner plants and their delicate airiness will shine