Sunday, October 01, 2006

Michaelmas Daisies Mean Autumn Color

Colors ranging from deep purple to almost white herald the last days of autumn in old pastures and ditches here in New England. These are mostly New England asters (Aster novae-anglicae) along with some New York asters (Aster novi-belgii). Because they bloom in late autumn near the feast day of the holy angels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, the British call them Michaelmas Daisies.

Gertrude Jekyll, prominent British garden designer in the early 20th century, is one of those most responsible for the popularity, and breeding and selection, of Michaelmas daisies. Reproductions of some watercolor paintings by George S. Elgood, showing Jekyll's use of Michaelmas daisies, are in the Jekyll - Elgood book Some English Gardens, published in London by Longmans, Green & Co in 1904. They are magnificent little watercolors. I only wish I could own them or a copy of the original book in which they were published.

My article Color in Autumn Garden Landscapes looks at some of the history of Michaelmas daisies; my blog, Michaelmas Daisies Mean Autumn talks about the derivation of the common name Michaelmas daisies.

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