From “Aster oblongifolius” in Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by Allan M. Armitage:
“The aromatic aster… is loaded with blue-purple daisy-like flowers that persist into late October. When brushed lightly, the blue-green leaves release a fresh, hard-to-describe but pleasant fragrance. This aster grows from rhizomes (as do most asters) and will attain a height of 2-3′ in the wild. Up to a dozen well-branched stems occur on a mature plant, and each holds narrow 1″ long leaves. The flowers are violet to pink to blue, each being about 1″ wide.”
From “Aster oblongifolius” in The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Asters by Paul Picton:
“The flowerheads have 20-30 violet, rarely lavender or pink, rays and yellow disc florets. Pale green leaves are oblong or lanceolate-oblong, to 8 cm (3 in) long, and rough on compact clumps….
“If freedom of flower production over a long season counts for anything A. oblongifolius and its offspring deserve to be much more widely planted by gardeners. The most aromatic parts of the plant are said to be the green-tipped bracts below the rays. The variable species has already provided gardeners with the selection known as ‘Fanny’s Aster’, which is similar but smaller. [Flowerheads] are freely carried over a long period on bushy sprays, with many branches which spread horizontally.”
Below are seventeen images of Aromatic Asters that were among the earliest asters to appear this autumn at Oakland Cemetery’s gardens. I photographed these in the first week of October (already a month ago!) while hunting down zinnias. Their tiny violet/purple blooms with orange and yellow centers create one of my favorite color combinations — yellow and purple — that capture the eye’s attention against the dark green background of their stems and leaves. Visually, they make up for their small size by blooming profusely in these rich, highly contrasted colors.
I spent some time puzzling over whether these were Aromatic Asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) or Bushy Asters (Symphyotrichum dumosum), given that Bushy’s flower is so similar in appearance. But the fragrance of these Aromatics was quite distinct — reminiscent, actually, of scented fabric softeners — so I stuck with the idea that I’d gotten the name right, especially since Bushy Asters are scentless. And Aromatic Aster’s unopened blooms emerge in a unique shape — similar to a cone or teardrop shape — that differentiate them from Bushy Asters.
Thanks for taking a look!