Aster Xfrikartii ‘Monch’

There are many handsome Michaelmas daisies for the autumn border, but this is by far the best, a hardy perennial with a number of exceptional qualities. It is less stiff and bushy than most Michaelmas daisies; the branching stems, carrying large, lavender-blue, starry flowers with yellow centres, are slightly floppy, though not lax enough to need staking. It does not require frequent division, for it increases slowly, and is unlikely to outgrow its space for three or four years, and -it does not suffer from mildew.

Plant the daisies 16 inches (40 cm) apart in good, enriched soil in a sunny place, preferably in spring. (I am coming increasingly to favour spring planting for perennials, after a number of devastating winters.) Give an annual mulch in autumn, working a compost or rotted manure between the plants.

The soft blue of Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’ makes a pastel picture with pink Japanese anemones (Anemone x hybrida), or it can be used, more strikingly, with plants of tawny colouring, such as Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, which is pink in the bud but turns to rich bronze, or with orange Crocosmia.

Graham Thomas names this Michaelmas daisy as one of the six best plants ‘which should be in every garden’, high praise from a master of perennial planting.

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