Aster x frikartii ‘ Monch 

Probably the finest of all the Asters most of which tend to suffer from mildew, even A. novi belgii in its North American home in the wild suffers from mildew. The mildew free A. x frikartii is a hybrid between the Himalayan A. thomsonii and the European A. amellus. The cross was first made by the Rev. Wolley-Dod who exhibited its flowers in 1892 but no more was heard of it until 1918 when Karl Frikart introduced three forms through his Stafa Nursery in Switzerland, naming them after three alpine peaks, the ‘Eiger‘, ‘Jungfrau’ and ‘Monch’. In 1924 a new form was introduced ‘A. x frikartii ‘Wunder von Stafa’ which has consistently proved to be shorter.  It now seems likely that stocks are all mixed up as no reference to height was made in the original records. Seemingly A. x frikartii can vary in height depending where it is growing in the garden. The photograph was taken in Sheila’s garden where it was basking in the autumn sunshine. 

A. x frikartii ‘Monch’ grows up to three feet with flowers three inches across. Height can be variable but expect it to be up to three feet and will flower from July on to the end of September and into October. It will make a good combination with Rudbeckia fulgida or the grass leaved Kniphofia triangularis with orange flowers. 

Conditions preferred but not essential are a sunny site with fertile soil good moisture retention and slightly alkaline. Seedlings should not be allowed to arise but weeded out and destroyed otherwise stock will degenerate and the true form lost. It is suggested that propagation by cuttings and given protection over the the winter is preferred method.

It is available from Elizabeth McGregor who also grows A. x frikartii ‘Jungfrau’ which grows to 2 feet and has smaller flowers. One nursery grows all four of the cultivars. However it is widely available but only buy from a reputable nursery or one that specialises in Asters as they are sometimes grown from seed. 

James McCombe