Stokes Aster, named after the early 19th century Scottish, botanist Jonathan Stokes, is a wonderful perennial that area gardeners have grown for years, never realizing it was actually a southeast US native which occurs in the wild from coastal North Carolina west to Louisiana.
Back in the 60s and 70s, all stokes aster (Stokesia laevis) in commerce was seed grown, producing plants with lovely blue flowers, but producing them on lax stalks. Lax, of course, is a technical plant catalog term for 'As limp as a proverbial spaghetti noodle'.
Fast forward to the 1980s and folks learned to propagate stokes aster from root cuttings. Before you knew it, gardeners around the country started introducing cloned selections in order to preserve specific desirable traits, which are lost when stokes aster is grown from seed. There were lovely purple, and yellow-flowered selections but, without question, the crowning achievement came from Mississippi gardener and florist, Peachie Saxon.
Stokesia 'Peachie's Pick' was discovered as a seedling in Peachie's garden and soon became the industry standard against which all other stokes asters are judged. What makes Stokesia 'Peachie's Pick' so great is the abundance of sturdy, 2' tall, upright stems topped in late June and July with clusters of 3" ragged-edged blue flowers...a favorite of both gardeners and yellow swallowtail butterflies. Unlike the more common seed strains which can become weedy by seeding around the garden, we have never seen a garden seedling from Stokesia 'Peachie's Pick' in over a decade. In addition to its beauty, stokesia can tolerate full to part sun and anything from fairly dry acidic soils to a ponds' edge.