Friday, November 9, 2012

A magenta coloured Aster

Magenta 'Benary' Aster , Aster novae-angliae x Aster novi-belgii
Bit of a 'State of the Union' aster this one as it is a hybrid between a New England aster and a New York aster or is what we more commonly call an Easter daisy. Like many hybrids and improved plants you get flowering for a longer season or, what could be called a cut and flower again plant. This one may well flower again in autumn when the weather cools down. As asters are long vase life cut flowers I suspect that the breeding programme may have had florists in mind and not home gardeners. I grew a batch from seed and there is quite a variation in flower colour in the mix. This is the first one out and though the centre flowers in this photo are starting to fade they still hold their colour well. It is interesting that the shaggy petals are folding themselves over the central boss of pollen once the bee's work has been done. Are they doing this to protect the developing seed from insect predation or the weather? Where are you David Attenborough.
 Magenta is a tricky colour to blend into a garden as it is so damn bright. I think immediately of the spring flowering Azalea 'Magnifica' as well as climbing Bougainvilleas which really stand out in the landscape.
The late English gardener Christopher Lloyd coined the term 'magical magenta' as he was fond of the bougainvillea which he saw spilling over white washed walls in Mediterranean gardens. He liked to team magenta flowers with lime green or acid yellow such as seen in the foliage colour of the low spreading golden bamboo, Pleioblastus viridistriatus. Perfect for the soft light of English gardens but a combination which would really scream at you under our harsh sun.
 It is early days for me and this plant. Still at the trial stage I have to see how it performs over the coming season, what it looks good growing with, while slowly building up stock before it sees a commercial light of day. Regardless of its commercial potential though the question will be does anyone really like magenta?

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