When I drove past this house and rubbernecked a striking plant growing in the front garden—tall and robust with spectacular purple blooms—I had to pull over to take a closer look. It’s too early for asters to be in flower, and I had no idea what it could be.
Like many Toronto homes, the owners have taken out the grass in the front and have planted the whole yard with perennials, and one large clump was this stunning purple specimen. The plant is over 5 feet and has clusters of aster-like flowers arranged on a framework of florets, looking a bit like a floral explosion. Turns out it is Ironweed, Vernonia Altissima, a North American native wildflower that is finding its way into many native perennial gardens. It is almost impossible to capture the vivid purple in of this plant in a photo. A bonus is that it attracts nectar-seeking butterflies. For late summer drama, this one can’t be beat.