Friday, October 22, 2010

Pink Asters

Wild Plants And Wooly Bears

A mid-October fishing trip to the Piscataquis River in Guilford revealed a welcome sight. There, near a roadside turnoff, was a large clump of New England asters, Aster novae-angliae. That in itself is hardly remarkable. But their color, pink trending toward rose, was quite special.

These wild asters (relatives of the domestic asters that we go to so much trouble to cultivate) usually occur in a single shade of violet. Dark pink asters are relatively scarce. So I picked a large bouquet and put them in a cooler, along with some brook trout I had caught. Back home, these handsome wildflowers would grace my kitchen table.

New England asters usually last for a week or more when kept in a water-filled vase. Then, as they age, the petals, or rays, wither and white, fluffy seeds emerge in their place. I knew that would happen and so left my bouquet on the table. Visitors would probably think me slack, but it was my express desire that these asters would produce seed.

So now, probably this weekend, I will go out in my field and let the wind take the seeds to their final destination. And hopefully, these will come true to seed and next year or more likely the year after, my place will have, in addition to lots of violet-colored asters, at least some of the more rare, pink variety. And to me, that’s a big deal.

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