As for the story of my Aster, the blooms did get a chance to open. I wish I had a better picture, but this gives you an idea. Blue/Purple blooms with yellow centres, and a completely covered ball about 2 1/2 feet high & wide. I'm really happy with both asters, and would very highly recommend them for fall blooms.
A few clouds of yellow snapdragons were still brightening up some dark spaces.
And I found another Peachleaf Bellflower hugging the clematis trellis.
The Cotoneaster Hedge put on a vibrant display this year. I have mixed feelings about the hedge, and find it rather boring most of the time, but it does have the first buds opening in the spring, and the last fall colour, both of which I appreciate very much.
Autumn Joy Sedum bloomed prolifically this year (was badly trampled last summer). Someone mentioned thinking of pink broccoli when they see it, and now, I do too.
The little Burning Bush that I was concerned about has also had a chance to change, not quite the vibrant red I had hoped for (and that it was a few years ago), but still very attractive.
And a gratuitous gargoyle picture for Joy. Alastair is feeling rather exposed now that the Flowering Plum has lost most of her leaves.
I am sorry I haven't been keeping up with your blogs, having come down with a case of the gardening blahs. Fortunately, I have figured out what has caused it. For the first time since moving to this house (2002) I have no new garden plans for next year. No beds that I can dig out and no MUST HAVES to put on a wishlist. I am very happy with all of our efforts digging, moving, shaping, planting...I'm sure there will be gaps to fill here and there, but I want to let things mature over the next few years. It's a very strange feeling.