Who can resist a sweeping drift of cool blue-violet flowers glowing in the low autumn sunlight? Sadly, the Prince Regent knew nothing of ‘prairie planting’ but he did know a beautiful plant when he saw it!
This month in the Pavilion Gardens we have eye-catching blocks of the glorious late summer Aster amellus ’Violet Queen’ making a cool foil for the hot yellows, reds and oranges of the turning leaves.
‘Violet Queen’ is certainly worthy of a place in anyone’s garden. A clump-forming, upright and slightly hairy (slug resistant) perennial with beautiful flower heads, 1.5 to 2 inches across with yellow disc centres, its flowers are borne in somewhat chaotic profusion, attractive to butterflies who enjoy its open form. Aster amellus is quite happy on our chalky soil, in sunlight or partial shade; of medium height, impervious to powdery mildew (the scourge of many Asters), pretty disease resistant, and flowers over a long period.
This daisy is not a native of Britain but an introduction from the North American prairies. It was brought to England a few centuries ago, quite possibly by the Tradescants, father and son gardeners to Charles I in London. Both made fruitful voyages to the ‘new colonies’ on plant hunting expeditions to delight the Queen, who loved her gardens. They introduced many new flowers and shrubs which today we take for granted e.g. the Horse Chestnut, so spectacular in spring and autumn. So we see that the Prince Regent was following this tradition.
Further information can be had from the Garden Museum in Lambeth.
Volunteer Gardener, Royal Pavilion Gardens