Plant of the Week: Bluebird Smooth Aster

Photo by Friends of the High LineBluebird smooth aster is a magnet for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Photo by Friends of the High Line

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

As autumn sets in on the High Line, one genus of plants becomes the star of the show: the asters. There are at least ten different species known as asters on the High Line, and this week the one that stands out is Aster laevis ‘Bluebird.’* Developed by Dr. Richard Lighty of the Mt. Cuba Center, Bluebird is a superior example of the native smooth aster. With a robust, vase-like shape bearing hundreds of vibrant violet flowers, Bluebird juxtaposes itself brilliantly against the autumn palette of the High Line, providing vital nectar for migrating butterflies like the monarch. You can find this important prairie plant blooming throughout the Chelsea Grasslands and the Wildflower Field.

Check out past favorites Raydon’s Favorite aromatic aster and Jindai tatarian aster, blooming this month as well.

*Please note that this taxonomic genus has recently been subdivided into many subsets, and this plant is now part of the genus Symphyotrichum. At the High Line we are still using the genus Aster, but we are joining the rest of the plant community in transitioning our plant lists and records accordingly.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
In the Chelsea Grasslands, between West 17th and West 20th Streets, and the Wildflower Field, between West 27th and West 28th Streets

Download our October Bloom Guide.

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