Although it is fun to try new plants, and there are all sorts of plant experiments going on in our garden at any given time, we cherish most the pass-along plants we have received over the years and carried with us from garden to garden.
My daddy’s aster is one such plant. My father was a quiet man, kind and patient and with very simple interests, but one thing I learned that he loved was flowers. At the point in his life when he could no longer pursue a vegetable garden and needed to take regular walks for his health, he made the acquaintance of a fellow gardener along his walking route and came home one day with a start of fall asters. It took awhile for me to learn that their description is aster oblongifolius, or aromatic aster, and by that time Dad had created a row of asters by division, and passed some to me and I had a row as well. The lovely purple starry flowers of this aster are so beautiful, and they are indeed aromatic in a pleasant, herby way when you brush against them, and they are so wonderfully tough.
And the asters bloom at this time of year in the early fall, along with the yellow sternbergia that make me think of my grandmother who grew them all over her front lawn, and the scarlet rhodophiala or fall amaryllis, passed along from a dear neighbor to my mother and from my mother to me. With various moves we have left behind things we still miss, perhaps, but we have managed to bring these treasures along with us.
At this time of year when leaves are falling and many plants are winding down because of shorter days, it is so comforting to have these purple and gold and scarlet blooms as reminders of loved ones and as vivid cheer against the coming of winter.