Asters get under way in midsummer and the earliest is always Aster × frikartii 'Mönch', with long-rayed lavender daisies that begin in July. It’s drought tolerant and easy, being bred from two European species by Mr Frikart. It makes an excellent partner for Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii' Goldsturm', but it isn’t stiff stemmed, so place it near the front of the border so it can loll a little. That's the position it likes.

Always find a place for ‘Little Carlow’, a small-flowered lavender aster that takes on a blue hue as the days shorten. It’s bushy with fine foliage and red-scaled buds, so it’s an attractive plant long before it flowers. The flowers cover ‘Little Carlow’, but New England asters (Aster novae-angliae) tend to have flower at the top and rather unsightly woody stems below. Position ‘Harrington’s Pink’ behind other plants and then watch as the butterflies descend in late-August and September because these are the most butterfly-pleasing asters of all. They generally come in various shades of pink, mauve and white.

New York asters (A. novi-belgii) tend to be more demanding, because they need a lot of moisture at the root. However ‘Purple Dome’ is a compact aster, perfect for the front of  border, that grows strongly. It's a perfect landing pad for small tortoiseshell butterflies!

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