A North Carolina gardener with a very picturesque 19th century farm gave me my first start of this aster. As he dug it from the red Piedmont clay he said, "I know it just looks like turnip greens now, but by fall it will have 6 foot stalks filled with lavender flowers. And oh yeah, be careful, it will take over if you don’t watch it." He was absolutely right, on both accounts. It is aggressive, but has no pest problems and its show of bloom late in the season is always a joy to see.

Tatarian aster is a rangy herbaceous plant that grows in a low bushy mound 2 to 3 feet across. In early autumn it sends up slender stalks covered in lavender flowers with yellow centers. Asters are actually very easy to grow. They require full sun and thrive in average garden soils. When they’re happy, they can be vigorous growers and may require dividing every two to three years.