September birthday stars

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Birth month flowers are traditionally linked to those born at that time of year.

They all have meanings, often with characteristics that are said to be ‘inherited’ by those born during that particular month.

It is believed that it was the Romans who started the trend of celebrating birth and birthdays using flowers, yet it is a tradition that is seen in countries throughout the world.

Those of you born during the month of September are honoured with the flowers of the Aster, the name of which is derived directly from the Greek word ‘Astra’, meaning ‘star’.

I am sure you are all stars in your own right – but the name actually refers to the star-like blooms, as found in all members of the Daisy family.

The Ancient Greeks used their Asters to create wreaths which they would place on altars to pay tribute to the Gods.

They believed the flower’s origin was due to their god Virgo being so saddened by the lack of stars in the sky that she began to cry.

As the tears landed, aster flowers grew in their place.

The flower now symbolises deep emotional love and affection, faith, patience and wisdom.

The characteristic star-like blooms are actually composed of many flowers, tightly packed together to form a disc in the centre – the disk florets – with an outer ring of ray florets, or petals, to attract pollinating bees and butterflies.

This type of inflorescence is known as a capitulum.

There are many types of Aster – both annual and perennial forms – with vibrant blooms in shades of reds and purples, as well as pure white.

The perennial ‘Michaelmas Daisies’ are wonderful border plants, offering welcome colour in late summer and well into the autumn.

There are tall and short cultivars, happy growing in sun or light shade, and making excellent cut flowers.

There are many hundreds of cultivars, but if I have to make a selection of just two...

Aster novi-belgii ‘Jenny’ has a neat, compact habit, and abundant reddish-purple semi-double blooms.

Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ is taller – up to 90cm. Masses of lavender-blue daisies offer a welcome landing platform for the nectar-seeking late summer butterflies and bees.

• Manea School of Gardening is a Royal Horticultural Society Approved Centre and offers a range of RHS courses at all levels.

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