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Gardening 101: Asters

Aster, Asteraceae: “Divine Daisy” It is a mildly sad sight at the end of the summer when many plants lose their luster, with flowers fading and leaves looking a bit burned, as if they forgot their sunscreen. But late summer and early autumn is when perennial asters can save the day, and the garden. Coming up: the the most colorful season at Old Court Nurseries in England, a small family-run operation specializing since 1906 in propagating its own Michaelmas daisies (and many other varieties of asters). Photographer Britt Willoughby Dyer visited the nurseries’ Picton Garden at the height of the season: Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer. Asters have a deep history in Greek mythology. According to legend, the goddess Astrea created asters with her tears. The story goes that she was so distraught at how few stars appeared in the dark sky that she started crying, and as her tears fell they turned into star-shaped asters on the ground. Aptly named for the ancient Greek and Latin word for star (because of its long, radiating petals), asters are a star of the late summer garden. As other perennials are starting to slow down, asters are winding up to add...

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