GARDENER’S GARDEN/Nancy Burns – Enduring flowers in your summer garden

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Sweeping masses of color always makes an eye-catching statement in one’s garden.  And when you have over three months worth (July to mid-October), you’ll know why the Japanese Aster (Kalimeris pinnatifida Hortensis) is so valued in the later season garden.

An herbaceous perennial in the aster family, Hortensis is a rugged plant native to Japan. 

Bearing one-inch semi double, white, daisy- or mum-like flowers with puffy light yellow centers, this lovely plant adds an airy yet tidy feeling to the garden.  As the flower ages, the white color softens to a welcome very pale pink near the outer tips of the petals. 

Beginning to bloom tentatively at first, these long-lasting flowers start out single, become semi-double, and reach full stride in August when they pop out fast and furious.

A sturdy grower at two feet tall (tip-shear in late May to encourage bushiness and more flowers), Hortensis grows 18 to 22 inches wide and does not need staking.  This perennial likes average to moist soil in a well drained site (drought tolerant when established), full sun to partial shade, zones 4 to 8.

Hortensis has apple green foliage, an upright globe-shaped clump, and a medium growth rate. It is polite, not invasive. 

A very rewarding (lots of flowers) and reliable (easy-to-grow) plant, this aster is valuable as a cut flower as well as a butterfly magnet.

Making a good companion plant to grow at the base of tall rose bushes, Hortensis is sold at most local plant nurseries or can be ordered through the Internet. 

Hortensis is a definite must to add to your list of perennial plants to buy for the 2008 garden. 

Remember:  Over three months of flowers!

Nancy Burns is the owner of Garden Ideas, a Certified Master Gardener; Horticulture Information Director of District 2, National Capital Area Garden Clubs; President of the Belle Haven Garden Club, and and Secretary of the National Capital Orchid Society.  Contact [email protected].

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