Years ago, I gave a friend some Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) volunteers, along with a number of other natives. A few months later she confessed to me that she had pulled it out of her garden because it looked too weedy.
Not too long after that, I came to the conclusion that she was right. Not only was it kind of weedy, it was absolutely rampant in my garden. It seeded everywhere, and grew to the size of a small shrub, so I decided to replace it.
Which is too bad, because Calico Aster has many virtues. It is absolutely LOVED by many native bees and other pollinators (including a couple of butterflies for whom it is a host plant). The number of stings I got trying to remove this plant was, I suspect, good evidence of pollinator devotion. (In place of Calico Aster I planted other pollinator-friendly native Asters, so I did not feel guilty about this. I mean that.)
I think the reason Calico Aster strikes some people as weedy is that the flowers are quite small, though they are enhanced by a mix of maroon and yellow centers. My understanding is that there are a number of showier cultivars, but I haven’t tried them.
Anyhow, my attempted removal of Calico Aster set the stage for an annual struggle whereby I was constantly spotting and pulling new volunteers. Like I said, it seeds like crazy, and it just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my garden.
After this year’s dry summer, I noticed that Calico Aster was actually the dominant Aster in the Parkway Bed, which gets absolutely no supplemental water.
At this point, something clicked.
So I hereby give notice: Calico Aster, you can have the Parkway Bed. Honestly, you’ve earned it. And while you might be a little weedy, you’re still kind of cute. However, I maintain the right to cut back your flowers before they go to seed.