In the unsettled gloom before the rain, I was admiring how the Birch Garden is slowly changing over to muted fall colors. The iteas, the rusty red shrubs in the middle level of this garden, grew back full and lovely after all the winter dieback had to be cut off last spring. There is fading purple catmint flopping about in front, dark wine purple heuchera at the lower right.
On the other side there is a rosy Autumn Joy sedum between two small 'Blue Chip' buddleias that have purple cones. There is even a pop or two of magenta phlox still trying to bloom.
And in the middle there is something tall and purple. Unexpectedly, it is an aster -- an escapee from the field who snuck into the Birch Garden and now proclaims "see, I am a garden plant too. A purple one to go with the others, and don't I fill this empty spot just fine."
Well, a field aster. For all my weeding and vigilance, this one escaped notice till now and it is not only in the perfect spot, it is standing upright, supported by the stalks of garden phlox that have gone by. That front part of the Birch Garden has always been a problem; once the spring and summer flowers are done it's empty. The aster is just right there.
It's no wonder I have surprises coming up, as my gardens are surrounded with asters and goldenrod just a few feet away.
This year the field is very subdued because it was so dry before now. In wetter summers the tall purple asters and goldenrod and smaller white wood asters are rampant and billowing. This year it was too dry even for these tenacious growers, and they are shorter and not as lush. They're flowering, but not as big.
So one of their kind decided to move into my helpfully irrigated garden, and take up residence right where I would be sure to appreciate it. It's happy there, and I'm happy with it, so I won't weed it out. I may be sorry about that next year, but for now the unexpected purple presence can stay.