This little perennial of many confused and conflicting names is the flower that Elizabeth Lawrence grew in her garden and called “Japaneses Aster”. I have read it was a favorite of hers, though I find only a sparse note or two about it in her books.
Back in Lawrence’s day, taxonomists called this plant Asteromea mongolica. Later they they changed the Latin to Kalimeris pinnatifida, which is what Alan Armitage uses in his “Armitage’s Garden Perennials”. He describes it as “a no brainer for beginning gardeners”.
I think this is misleading. For if a beginning gardener is to grow an easy plant, they have to first find it at the box store or the garden center. They will find this plant at neither. The one I photographed in a client’s garden came by mail from the Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina.
This plant went into the terraced garden in West Meade in early July, and has been blooming ever since. Its blossoms are a pristine double white, and when they are done they do not brown or linger, but drop off and disappear. No bug eats it, and it is neat and compact, at about 10 inches in height. (Garden guides , including Armitage’s describe it as 2-3 ft tall which makes one wonder if the writers describing the plant ever grew it.)
Asteromea, which is the name I like, is no traveller. In my old garden it spread slowly into a patch.
How unfortunate it is that no one local sells this plant, though they will happily sell dozens of other perennials that bloom for under a week, or turn into ragged, unkempt wrecks after flowering , disfiguring the garden.
And one last word about the name- the Missouri Botanical Garden website calls Asteromea “Kalimeris mongolica”.
I will stick with the old name-