Friday, March 1, 2013

Aster Evaluation

Symphiotrichum oblongifolium 'October Skies'

I just got done reading the latest plant evealuation notes from Chicago Botanic Garden.  This issue: Asters.  With 116 taxa, this was the largest comparitive evaluation trial they've done to date.  The trial list uses the current nomenclature, which I'm still adapting to.

 I wasn't too terribly surprised by any of the results, except S. lateriflorum 'Lady in Black' getting 5 stars.  This variety had always been short lived for me (2 years or less), in more than one garden situation.  I will apparently have to give it another try.

Symphiotrichum oblongifolium 'October Skies'
Not surprising, and I'm happy to see, five different S. oblongifolium were trialed and all five got four stars or better.  They recommend using these instead of the common S. nova-belgii or S. nova-angliae.  'Raydon's Favorite' got five stars, I'll have to give this one a try.  Not trialed was 'Dream of Beauty', which is a very soft pink variety.  Mine is still fairly new, so no comparison to my 'October Skies' yet, but so far it is very nice.  S. oblongifolium 'October Skies' is my favorite aster so far, despite being a little floppy and needing a grow-through support. 

Eurybia macrophylla 'Alba'

I'm also happy to see Eurybia divaricatus & E. divaricatus 'Eastern Star' getting five stars.  I love white wood aster, and it's highly under-rated.  I'm hoping to add 'Eastern Star' to the catalog in the near future.  The other wood aster to do well was S. drummondi, which received four stars.  We may add this one to the catalog as well in the future.  Another one we'll be adding is E. macrophylla 'Alba', which wasn't trialed.  The natural form of E. macrophylla received a respectable enough three stars.  This lower rating was due to poor rust resistance and all other qualities reported were excellent.  I haven't seen rust on 'Alba' in my garden; it may or may not be more resistant.  I'd love feedback if anyone has had rust problems on it.

There are three asters I haven't grown that I'll now be adding to the gardens.  A. tataricus 'Jindai' got five stars and I've read nothing but good things about it from a number of sources.  A. tongolensis 'Wartburg Star' got four stars and I've seen it a number of times but have never grown it.  S. ericoides 'Snow Flurry' got five stars.  I've seen heath aster in the wild on many occasions and have always liked it. 

Aster ageratoides 'Starshine'
There is one aster I've seen that wasn't trialed here and I've been waiting impatiently to get a hold of.  In July 2010 I toured the Ball Hort trial gardens and saw Aster ageratoides 'Starshine'.  Its habit and bud coverage impressed me immensely.  It's now coming on the market, and I'll be adding it to the garden when I can.

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