A Beautiful Garden Morning + New England Aster

Its a very beautiful morning to join with
friends, family, and community
to work together in the beauty of nature.
10-12. This in an open community invitation.
If you’ve wondered about the famous
Waters Garden, come on by,
every week Wed 5-sunset, Sat 10-12,
last Saturdays 12-1 music circle,
often with a shared meal,
a potluck -avoiding common allergens, helping to clean up,
bringing your own utensils, and food to share.
Have a beautiful day.

Focus on… New England aster

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is possibly the easiest of the North American asters to identify. There are six species of aster that grow in Waters Garden, all flowering in the late summer and early fall. This one has the largest and darkest purple blooms, along with hairy stems and dark green leaves that clasp around the stem at their base.

Like all members of the Asteraceae family, each bloom is not a single flower, but is actually a compound flower made up of many tiny flowers. The flowers that make up the central circle are called disc florets and the flowers that produce the ‘petals’ are called ray florets. Each bloom on a New England aster has 50 to 100 disc florets that start out golden yellow and later turn purple, and 50 to 75 purple rays. The ray florets are female and produce no pollen, whereas the disc florets are androgynous, having both male and female reproductive parts. They are mostly pollinated by long-tongued bees such as bumblebees and honeybees.

See if you can find some New England aster in the garden and take a closer look at the disc and ray florets.

The “Focus On” series is written by Jeremy Atherton, the parent of a Waters 5th grader. He is a research scientist at Northwestern University Medical School. In addition to volunteering at Waters Garden, he is a steward at Riverbank Neighbors and a member of the 47th Ward Green Council.