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 ...now, that's a Phlox that I'd really like to have around!