Friday 19 October 2012

Plant of the week

Insects love it!

Aster amellus 
‘Violet Queen’ 

It was an NSCGP (now Plant Heritage) pink sheet plant. When this list of endangered plants was published my garden was already filled with ‘Violet Queen’. I could not understand why my favorite plant, which is so easy to grow and so beautiful, could ever become scarce.

Violet Queen has everything you could want in a herbaceous plant.
  • It has the most fantastic colour, with a myriad  purple tones.
  • Like all michaelmas daisies, pollinating insects love it.
  • It is completely hardy and, provided it is given it’s own space, has a fine constitution.
  • It is compact and free standing and does not need staking (even if, unlike me, you are compulsive staker).
  • The flowers maintain their glorious colour for all of ten weeks
  • It never gets powdery mildew, the scourge of michaelmas daisies. Even in the driest gardens, it is completely mildew free.
  • Year on year, it reappears in slowly increasing clumps.

At least ten weeks of beautiful flowers
Violet Queen is a compact
45cm high and sturdy
So why was it rare?
  • Most michaelmas daisies can be easily divided with a sharp spade. They are so easy that this can be done at literally at any time of year. Not ‘Violet Queen’. It is extremely fussy about dividing and, even at the optimum time in mid May, needs special care.
  • It establishes slowly. I propagate it by Irishman’s cuttings (small divisions with roots). I take them in May and directly pot them in compost. They go straight into my cold greenhouse which provides wind protection. They will be ready to plant out in September, but still need tender loving care.
  • Believe it or not, some gardeners still dig their herbaceous borders!  That leaves no chance for the delicate surface roots of this fine plant! Gardeners do not seem to keep a record of the plants they kill by soil cultivation!

Aster amellus ‘Brilliant’ is another favourite. Exactly as it says on the tin, absolutely brilliant!


  1. could a novice cope with this if you brought one to put in our garden?

    1. Yes he could! I presume I should re-interprete this statement as "father would you bring it down to London and plant it for me"

  2. great. happy to lend you the tools dad

  3. Well, I think you have answered your own question - it is a bit fussy with propagation. Too idiosyncratic for today's industrial nursery industry!

    Also- does it have "plant breeders rights" attached? If not- who will make the money? Too cynical - perhaps - but I for one am bored with the endless stream of gimmicky "named forms" which have superceded basic species and older varieties in most nurseries.

    1. I like to try and answer my own questions! I think you have hit the nail on the head when you speak of difficulties in propagation and production.
      It probably does not 'stand well' on a garden centre bench.
      'Violet Queen' is a very old variety and there is no question of breeder's rights


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