I've always known that the asters came in all sizes, but I had no idea that they got this huge. This one is over 6 feet tall, a horticultural Colossus of Rhodes, entitled to consideration for one of the Seven Wonders of the Gardening World (if there were such a thing). It's like an aster on steroids. This is the straight species Aster tartaricus. I've had Aster tartaricus for years, and it usually tops out at between four and five feet tall. Another growth explosion caused by the extra August rain.
While this plant retains the name "Aster," most of the American asters have been reclassified as Symphyotrichum. In the following photo are two former asters, Symphyotrichum ericoides 'Snow Flurry' and a hybrid between that and Symphyotrichum laeve 'Bluebird.' The flowers of this volunteer hybrid are more blue than they appear in the above photo. Here is a closeup of the flowers with a slightly more realistic color:
The flowers are in between the size of 'Snow Flurry' and 'Bluebird.' They are also a paler violet than 'Bluebird's' flowers. Last year it suffered a rabbit attack in Spring, which shortened it by about half. I liked that better than its unpruned state this year.
Here are Symphyotricum novae-angliae 'Honeysong Pink' and 'Hella Lacy' in full bloom (with white butterfly). A hybrid between the two has violet flowers. In the photo it looks too lavender (it's the flower on the bottom). My camera just can't seem to get the violet or the purple right. 'Hella Lacy' is a true dark purple. 'Hella Lacy' and the hybrid are growing with a volunteer Symphyotrichum pilosum, which I'd better get rid of before it goes to seed.
I wish I had a photo of the lovely Aster cordifolius 'Sweet Lavender.' I'm not calling it by the new name because this plant no longer exists in my garden. It succumbed to repeated attacks by rabbits and squirrels. Yes, I actually caught the squirrels attacking it. The plant must have given up in disgust.
Finally, I have two mystery asters. The volunteer plant is compact, with small white flowers. This plant blooms late in Summer. The stems and leaves are smooth.
The other mystery is my fault. I ordered a plant from the now-defunct Heronswood Nursery, but I failed to write down the name. I had been keeping the old catalogues, but I must have recycled the one from which I ordered, and I can't figure out what it is. The flowers are actually a very pale violet. It starts blooming around the middle of July and is nearly done now. It gets about 2 1/2 feet tall and has smooth green stems and leaves. I can't remember when I got it, but it was sometime before 2000. If anyone can identify this plant, I would be so grateful.