I bought the aster plants one year not quite knowing what they were. They bloomed late in the season, bright purple and tall. A last-minute stunner.

Every year they have grown more profuse, often making surprise appearances in other garden beds far from their original home outside our kitchen window.

As summer loses its grip, the asters start to bloom with wild abandon, a boisterous encore at the end of a glorious season. So many, many blooms; a riot of purple in a bed strewn with brown, spent, summer plants.

And then, the purple asters - the entire plants - tip over as if to pour out the very last bit of beauty left in them. Their flowers bend low to touch the concrete patio bricks.

As I stand at the sink and cook dinner or wash dishes, they cry: "Look! Look! Our beauty is late, but it is lavish, it is generous, it is all for you."

It's almost as if the asters bloom for no other reason than to make me happy.