Plant of the Week: Peachie’s Pick Stokes’ Aster

Photo by Karen Blumberg

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 one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

The  High Line at the Rail Yards boasts 75 plant varieties that are brand new to the park this season. One of the most exciting is the Peachie’s Pick Stokes’ aster, which is still blooming gloriously in the beds between the Rail Track Walks. It is one of the showiest of the wildflowers that we cultivate in the park, with big, beautiful French blue flowers – up to 3 inches across – that bloom from June well into November. Peachie’s Pick Stokes’ asters will grow to about 18 inches with bright evergreen foliage, so long as it finds the growing conditions optimal in its new home on the High Line.

Photo by Kathleen Fitzgerald

The species Stokesia laevis, named for English botanist Jonathan Stokes (1755–1831), can be found growing in wetlands, lowland pinewoods, wet savannahs, and even wet ditches along its native coastal plain from North Carolina to Florida and Louisiana. Southern gardeners have been growing it in their gardens for decades. There are lavender, rose, and even yellow blooming varieties, but in this case the cultivar name ‘Peachie’s Pick’ doesn’t refer to the color of the flowers – the plant has a second namesake. This Stokes’ aster is named for Peachie Saxton, who discovered the particularly tall, floriferous, long-blooming, and surprisingly drought-tolerant variety growing in her Mississippi garden. Since the variety hit the nursery trade sometime in the 1980s, it has been a favorite Stokes’ aster of gardeners and designers throughout the southeastern United States.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT

On the High Line, you can see Stokesia laevis ‘Peachie’s Pick’ growing in the Rail Track Walks at 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Download our October bloom list.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects – become a member of Friends of the High Line today!

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