Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Great Phlox Inphusion Has Begun

I liked this nice macro I got of the emerging bloomhead, on which the buds are almost prettier than the actual flowers ... (Photos taken July 20, 2008, late afternoon in the 'wild bed.')

Ok, confession time here. I used to badmouth Phlox as too common and too pink for my tastes. Which, obviously, have been changing the past few years since we've had this one in the back (insanely wild now) corner garden. Oddly enough, it's from the same friend who gifted us with several aggressive plants (White Yarrow and the Lysimachia I profiled last week), but this one is, pardon the pun, really growing on me! Now, no one is ever going to convince me to plant that horrid creeping Phlox that looks fantastic for about a week or two in the spring, then turns into a prickly mat that you avoid instinctively ... nope, not at Casa IVG. The sedums do quite nicely in that regard, thank you very much!

Let's move in a bit closer and see what's going on with these blooms ... no wonder the butterflies love them (and I'm hoping Hummingbirds will too), because it looks like they probably have some tasty nectaries for those who can reach them.

When I posted a photo of this Phlox recently, Gail was kind enough to ID it for me as Phlox paniculata. Now, some may wonder why I never knew what this relatively common plant was. To be really truthful, I never really had any interest in it, nor did I know of its potential benefits as a garden denizen. Thus, I never researched it, passed it by in garden centers, and basically just ignored it. I'm just that way (well, both of us are) about certain plants, until something about them interests me (or someone gives me a pretty one, lol). But now I've seen how this plant behaves and what it gives us, I think it's earned its spot here.

Now, let's pull back a bit to see the extent of its spread this year ... and remember, this was a plant we first put in in 2004, a clump from a friend (who I met at the Iowa Caucuses, in fact!), and it was reputedly the magenta variety though it seems to have strayed from that since then, though I guess it's not unusual for them to morph from seedlings that are not true to the parent. (That's precisely why I never collect Zinnia seeds.) Whatever has been going on back there, it's definitely going to need to be brought a bit under control later this summer, because this plant is quickly outgrowing its space. Actually, I think what I'd like to do is just dig up several big clumps, plant them along that (hard to mow) fence line along our neighbor's driveway. That's one plant that she'd probably approve of growing there (after the great Castor and Broom Corn Disaster of 1999 when they "tickled" her too much). And Why Not? The flowers are really pretty, abundant, attractive to the flashy garden visitors and bees, and smell really good?
And for a wider view, here you can see how it fits in with the Monarda, Coneflowers, Baptisia and the numerous tree saplings we have to eliminate (grrrr.... don't say the word Mulberry around here!). I think at this point, we should just let these guys duke it out for territory in the back bed (unless someone needs starts of them) and surrender this space to the victors, Monarda, Coneflowers, Rudbeckias, Baptisia and the Phlox. It would be a lot less work for us, would lend a nice wild effect to the gardens.... I think we'll do that. As soon as I get that Coreopsis moved in there, and we move those poppies, I think this could morph into a quite nice corner, with some more Hollyhocks ... time will tell whether we can pull this off!

Ok, so now I've moved over to the Phlox Side ... I'm even going to look next spring for this 'Nicky' Phlox that Mr. McGregor's Daughter posted recently, that's a Phlox that I'd really like to have around!


Roses and Lilacs said...

Good morning IVG. Your phlox are very, very pretty. Phlox are one of my favorites. I know a lot of folks say the old fashioned pink ones are too common and they sometimes get mildew. I still love 'em. Your photo of the phlox with cone flowers--they look good together.

As you mentioned, they host a lot of interesting insects. I frequently have sphinx moths, bees, and even hummingbirds at mine.

olivia said...

Heh ... ;-)

boran2 said...

Your phlox do show well against the other plantings. If I said that they loosely resemble impatiens would you hold it against me? < ducks >

BTW, when I was young I thought that creeping phlox was a disease.

Gail said...

It would be hard to find fault with the phlox looking as good as it does! Both photos are wonderful. I am liking the grouping in the second photo...a really nice mix! It must be lovely in the spring when the baptisia blooms. They all seem to be behaving nicely and blooming their hearts out!

I wish my phlox was recovered completely from phlox hasn't! It might not! When I was at the Missouri Botanical Garden in May...their phlox was also afflicted...Should I feel better that they can't control it either!

Thank you for the link...I love that we have helped convince you to better appreciate your phlox! It is a fine phlox and not at all a bad pink.


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Marnie,
The Phlox say thanks for the compliment. :-) That used to be my attitude, as I said, but I'm really seeing some real possibilities for this elsewhere around the yard. We haven't had problems with powdery mildew or those beetles that ate Gail's phlox. Odd too, because this is a prime year for powdery mildew with all the really humid weather and rain of late.

When I looked out on this patch from the window in the dining room this morning, I did see a hummingbird visit the Monarda briefly ....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Yeah, I did deserve that little bit of snark, eh? :-) Even curmudgeons mellow a bit over time, lol.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
Thanks, they do look pretty despite the neglect they've gotten back there for the past two years. We have to deal with this mess sometime soon this summer or start a tree farm. NOT.

You cracked me up with that one about the disease. Does sound like something nasty though, eh?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
I've always wished the Baptisia would bloom twice, but alas they don't. They're such clockwork plants to bloom, they could never synch with all the rest, but wouldn't that be grand?

As for that bug, did you say that it was some kind of beetle? I sure hope we don't get those, but we're not that far away from Mobot relatively speaking, so I'll be keeping an eye for the lil buggers.

You're more than welcome... you've been a big salesperson to win me over to the phlox side, hehe.

Gail said...


Welcome to the phlox side...resistance is futile!

The phlox bug is a 'true bug' a soft bodied horrible flying thing...larger but in the same family of sucking bugs like aphids!

We are having some of your rain!


Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Thanks, Gail,
I'll have to learn more about that bug, so I'll know what to look for in case of failing plants. Hopefully our Mantises will help take care of those!

Glad you're getting rain! We've just got the high dew points and humidity with some heat on the way for the weekend. But only a few more plants to get in!

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