American Asters

This six-foot-tall mini-thicket of late-blooming asters is providing another lovely spot of color in our garden despite the recent cold snap — I almost cut them back in November and I’m so glad I waited!

I don’t know which variety of asters this is, but I have my fingers crossed that it’s one of the rhizomatous perennial species and will return again next year.

New Holly Tree

The latest addition to the garden is a lovely holly shrub donated by some neighbors, now repotted in a giant tub donated by another neighbor, with a hundred pounds of soil ordered online and delivered by cargo van.

(Not pictured: three more identical tubs, each with their own hundred pounds of soil, awaiting more flowers expected to arrive over the coming few days.)

The evergreen foliage and bright-red berries should provide some lovely color this winter.

The label describes it as a “Blue Princess” Holly (Ilex × meserveae) which could eventually grow to be 12 feet tall, although I suspect that the limited volume of soil will prevent it from reaching that size — I suppose that if it does well I’ll need to prune it back to keep it from getting much past six feet just to keep it manageable and avoid obstructing the light entering the building’s windows.)

Burdock & Ladybugs

Another reason I like burdock is that it supports a lot of insects. A week ago, I noticed that seemingly overnight, the undersides of the flower clusters had been swarmed by hundreds of aphids. I pulled out the hose and blasted a bunch of them off with a few quick squirts, but that only thins them out, it never gets ’em all, so I was very pleased to find a couple of ladybugs crawling around on it the next day. Although they’re cute, I know they’re fiends for aphids.

And even better, by the end of the week I was seeing ladybug larvae crawling around, clearing out the lingering aphids. A few days later, I can no longer find any aphids at all.