Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Snow Flurry, the aster that's a groundcover

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'Snow Flurry' is the easiest aster ever:  No pinching, staking, or dividing.  Weedproof, too. 

 

The leaves are so tiny the plant has a heath-and-heather look—until quarter-inch white daisies start appearing in mid-September.

 

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My smallest daisy ever:  a dollhouse bouquet isn't even as broad as my finger. 

 

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Tiny also means tough:  'Snow Flurry' is the aster for dry soil, relentless sun, and hot paving.  Even if you have to create those conditions in your garden by doing what I did, making a trough, 'Snow Flurry' is worth it.  So worth it.

 

 

Here's how to grow this easy sun-loving perennial:

 

Latin Name

Symphyotrichum (Aster) ericoides 'Snow Flurry'

Common Name

'Snow Flurry' heath aster

Family

Asteraceae, the Aster family.

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous prostrate perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 8, but also listed as Zone 4 - 9 and 4 - 7.  

Habit

Prostrate unless it can prop itself up on a neighbor; cascading when given the opportunity.  It layers as it goes.

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

A widely-rooted clump four feet across or more, but only six inches high unless it's found a leg up in a convenient neighboring plant.

Texture

Dense enough to work as groundcover, but with leaves so tiny that the look is fluffy or even mossy.

Grown for

its habit: Typical asters are upright—too upright, in fact:  Most of them benefit from pinching as well as staking to stay acceptably full and upright.  It's a relief to have an aster that, all by itself, is at once totally prostrate but still as full and fluffy—just at a very low altitude—as the best-kempt of the upright asters.

 

its flowers: The smallest of the aster flowers, 'Snow Flurry' blooms are often just a quarter inch across, a half inch at the outside, in dense clusters that sit atop the foliage like clumps of snow flakes.

 

its toughness: 'Snow Flurry' is very drought-tolerant, thriving in well-drained and even xeric conditions. 

 

its season-long appeal: The tiny needle-like foliage on outward creeping stems starts off in good shape and stays that way the whole season.  In September, the first flowers appear, peaking in October.  Unlike typical upright and mounding asters, 'Snow Flurry' is also appealing in foliage and form not just in flower.

Flowering season

'Snow Flurry' flowers in September and October.

Culture

Full sun and good-to-excellent drainage.  'Snow Flurry' thrives when planted on rocky slopes or at the front of a bed that is bordered by paving or a stone wall that it can sprawl out upon.  


'Snow Flurry' is vigorous when happy, and would overwhelm any smaller neighbors.  On the other hand, it's terrific when it can explore around and through taller ones.  Partner 'Snow Flurry' with upright sun-lovers that would look good with 'Snow Flurry' afluff all around their ankles: Upright purple-leaved sedums such as 'Matrona', say, or any of the sword-leaf xerics like yucca or phormium.    

How to handle it

Plant only in full sun and where it has good drainage.  This is not the plant for heavy soil or poor drainage. 

 

After growth resumes in Spring, cut the stems back to where green leaves have started.  Let sprawl at will the rest of the season.  Leave the leafless stems in place for the Winter.   

 

'Snow Flurry' stems layer as they grow.  In Spring, you can separate rooted sections and transplant them far and wide.

Downsides

None that I can think of.

Variants

Asters are such a huge family there are bound to be several for almost any garden.  The pink and purple varieties that look like typical Fall mums are, to me, the least interesting, but they are unbeatable for jolts of hot color as the season is cooling off. 

 

Here are three at the top of my list: A. tataricus is a huge-leaved monster to six feet tall, with flowers in lilac-blue.  'Chilly Wind' can soar to six feet as well, with white flowers in August and September.  'Ezo Murasaki' is mounding to two feet, with blue flowers.  In Zone 7 and up, Aster carolinianus is a modestly-climbing pink-flowered vine.  I've proved several times, alas, that it's yet not hardy in my own garden.  I'll try yet again, with a particularly well-drained spot in the Pink Borders, and I'll mulch it extravagantly, too.  

 

Availability

On-line and at retailers.

Propagation

By division in Spring.

Native habitat

Aster ericoides is native to the American Midwest.

 
 
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