In a Vase on Monday: Yes Milady (the Chinese Imposter)

IMG_7897After blithely calling these pretty pink things ‘asters’ all the time I have been raising them, it is only this week that I realised that they are not really asters at all but Callistephus chinensis, sometimes known as ‘Chinese asters’. I knew without thinking about it that they weren’t the Michaelmas daisy kind of aster, but it having been a plant I grew from seed as a young teenager around ** years ago and always remembering it as an aster I didn’t give this discrepancy a second thought. In those days it was Aster ‘Ostrich Plume’ (unlike today’s ‘Milady Mixed), along with mesembryanthemum and clarkia, that I grew but I don’t recall there being much choice at all in seeds.

Looking back though, I can see how I preferred a pinkish palette even in those days, and today’s Chinese asters are an exceedingly pretty shade of pink – a fourth bloom was a soft lilac and it looks as if there will be a white flowerhead to follow shortly. They certainly make very attractive and fullsome blooms, growing on sturdy stems, and I look forward to seeing how well they do in a vase. They are joined by cornflowers ‘Pink’ and ‘Black Boy’, the former not such strong grower as the latter, sweet pea ‘Purple Pimpernel’, a strand of Amaranthus caudatus and a self-seeded umbellifer. I am not sure what the umbellifer with its very dainty flowers and finely cut delicate leaves is as it seems too late for cow parsley – any suggestions?


IMG_7898It is a pleasure to have a sweet pea fragrance in the house again as most recent pickings have gone to friends. Unlike those in the cutting beds these plants, raised from seed collected for the last two years, are still growing strongly. Their bi-colouring seemed  to soften the striking pinkness of the asters and provide a link with the other blooms. Today’s receptacle was the heather coloured Caithness Glass rose bowl which has had several IAVOM outings and props were tiny Chinese perfume bottles, genuinely Chinese and not imposters.

During the week I have been picking roses again, many of which are in full bloom once more and nearly replicating their June glory, but such is the quantity of cutting material available generally that another vase will be called for very soon. Whether you have an abundance of blooms available in your garden, a select few or maybe a range of foliage do join us today by picking some and popping it in a vase for your own pleasure – and extend the range of that pleasure by sharing it with us on IAVOM by leaving links to and from this post.



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53 Responses to In a Vase on Monday: Yes Milady (the Chinese Imposter)

  1. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – Golfing gold | Duver Diary

  2. jenhumm116 says:

    That ‘aster’ is a stunner! And I know what you mean about giving away sweet peas and finding you have none left for yourself!
    More golf flowers from me this week:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jen – I am thrilled with the aster and will grow some for the borders too next year. It took ages to get to this stage though – 6 months – but without struggling, just taking it slow and steady

  3. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – Greens and white – Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  4. Christina says:

    Gorgeous rich colours today Cathy; I’m envious of the Callistephus chinensis, mine didn’t germinate or died very quickly due to that bad compost. Here’s my link:

    • Cathy says:

      Oh do try again with yours Christina – mine were completely trouble free and I shall certainly grow them again and more of them too. I am very wary of composts these days after my experience with a bad batch so have every sympathy with you on that score

  5. Anna says:

    What’s in a name? That which we call a rose …..” etc. Aster is certainly easier on the tongue. Pink cornflowers are going on my list for next year Cathy 🙂 No vase for me this week. I went south at the beginning of the month to visit my mum who became ill whilst I was there. She has now been in hospital for eleven days so I am not sure when I will be home. Will enjoy other vases later after visiting time.

  6. Such a pretty “aster.” Love the amaranthus too. It grows like a weed here, but we are waaaay to hot for violas in August.

  7. You say aster and I say, aster, as it ‘appens. They look lovely and should dry nicely I guess? My vase is hiding in the shade now,

    • Cathy says:

      ‘As to be asters then 🙂 But drying them? I have no idea and will need to check that out – is it something you have done?

  8. pbmgarden says:

    Beautiful arrangement Cathy and informative. I didn’t know about Chinese Asters and didn’t realize you got into gardening at a young age. ‘Black Boy’ is really a nice color–must look for some here. Thanks for hosting.
    My vase is

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susie – there was a definite spark back then then but it must have gone partially dormant for a while when growing up and Life generally got in the way

  9. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Put your Sunglasses on! | Words and Herbs

  10. Cathy says:

    That’s lovely Cathy. I do like the Amaranthus draped casually in the front of the arrangement. The tiny Chinese bottles are a fitting accompaniment. My vase is a little dazzling this week:
    Have a good week Cathy!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – I wasn’t sure after I picked the amaranthus if it was too ‘dominant’ to include, but draping it like this seemed to work OK

  11. Cath says:

    I would love to grow those asters, they remind me of a chrysanthemum, which I always think of as oriental. The scent of the sweet peas must be lovely. Mine are about 2 inches tall and seem to have escaped being eaten so far. My vase is here:

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I think they have the look of crysanthemums too, but not their autumnal colour! Good luck with your sweet peas – did you sow them outside?

  12. Hannah says:

    Your mixture of shades of pink and purple and the various different flower forms is lovely, Cathy, the trailing Amaranth, sweet peas, and cornflowers add some delightful accents. That is interesting about the Chinese asters. I have some asters about to bloom but they are the kind with many tiny flowers in large sprays.

    My link is-

    • Cathy says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Hannah – and they are called asters on the packet and it is only in tiny writing that the other name is given, so it was an interesting discovery for me

  13. Wow, gorgeous, I love the Asters, Chinese or not. I am not sure I have ever seen any. Amazing what can be grown from seed. Wish I could catch a whiff of your Sweet Peas! Here is my vase:

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, they are certainly one of the things that I was especially amazed at coming from a seed as they are really strong and chunky plants. Definitely one for next year 🙂

  14. Oh what gorgeous colour! I grew amaranthus last year and was told it self seeded prolifically but sadly no sign this year. It’s wonderful for flower arrangements. Over the course of your meme I am making notes of flowers for the garden next year. This is my In a Vase on Monday post

    • Cathy says:

      Isn’t it just?! I have heard that about amaranthus too but it hasn’t happened here either, not yet anyway. I too have made notes over the last couple of years about blooms I have admired in vases so I can try them for myself. Best to write it down straight away before it’s gone out of our heads!

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Wow, so lovely, Cathy! Glad to see C.’Black Boy’ featured since I admired it last week and the sweet peas are such a lovely bicolor. Aren’t we lucky that there are so many beautiful flowers in the world? I think your mystery umbel may be chervil, a self-sowing annual.
    My vases this week:

    • Cathy says:

      Thnaks Eliza – sorry to be repetitive with the cornflower!! Certainly agree about how lucky we are – and especially with ghings that are easy to grow from seed too. I wondered about a herb for the mystery plant, although chervil is not something I have used – will check it out

  16. Gorgeous mix of colors and the asters are just magnificent Cathy! You certainly have a way with making your vase combinations beautiful! I am glad to have been following this meme and participating for the last couple of months. I am really enjoying going out into the garden and collecting blooms on a regular basis…thanks to you! My In a Vase on Monday post:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Lee – it is such an enjoyable habit to get into, and it only took a little encouragement from each other to do it regularly week after week and most of us would miss it in a week when we couldn’t pick or post

  17. I am struck by your comment that you loved a pink palette back in your teen years and then still today. I was once an avid lover of pink and purple, and hater of orange. Somewhere along the lines that all changed. Anyway….because today is also Garden Blogger’s Bloomday I cheated and posted my vase creation(s) last Friday. I hope you’ll forgive the day switch. Also I wonder if your unknown umbel might be the same as the one in my post? Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it was an interesting thought about the pinks – it is ony fairly recently that I have initially reluctantantly introduced hotter colours and have found yellow especially hard to get used to using!

  18. Anca Tîrcă says:

    I love Aster, too, but mine will bloom in a few weeks, I hope.Beautiful colours and a stunning arrangement! My vase is here:

  19. Kris P says:

    I love this arrangement, Cathy! The colors play off one another beautifully. Imposter or not, I think the pink aster make a very pretty centerpiece. I’ve had relatively little luck with asters of any kind, regrettably.

    Thanks once again for hosting. My vase is tucked into by Bloom Day post this week:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kris – I was aware it was GBBD but decided not to complicate matters. Mine will just be ‘late’ tomorrow instead 😉

  20. How beautiful, Cathy. I love the Chinese scent bottles too.

  21. johnvic8 says:

    Whatever the name, they are beautiful. Another winner from a very busy lady. Well done.

  22. Pingback: One Fine Dahlia | Edinburgh Garden Diary

  23. I love that Chinese aster! Tell me, do your sweetpea seeds come true? Here’s mine:

    • Cathy says:

      I have been looking to see what other varieties of this tye of aster are available, thinking ahead for next season. Purple Pimpernel is the only one I have saved seeds from and they certainly come true but I don’t know if others would – I wondered whether to save seeds from the Winter Sunshine ones, but didn’t.

  24. Noelle says:

    I’ve been dithering…but not over your lovely blooms. Some of us will be sowing Asters in time to bloom for next year. Sorry to be late…dithering:

  25. smallsunnygarden says:

    I had never thought of the discrepency among ‘Asters’, but it certainly is plain now that you point it out! Your imposters are magnificent and I’m wondering whether there’s any chance of my getting away with them here; I was already eyeing some in the seed catalogue 😉
    We have house guests just now, so posting is a rapid thing, but I just managed to get a vase up at the blog – we aren’t tired of sunflowers yet, I hope?

    • Cathy says:

      They have had a very long growing season as it has taken 6 months from sowing to flowering – don’t know how different that would be if you grew them. And no, not tired of sunflowers!

  26. Pingback: a vase & a new foliage fave |

  27. rickii says:

    Lush and Lovely. You can cool off with mine:

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