The rain outside is knocking the last petals off the tulips and surely bringing new life to weed seedlings all over, but I won’t let that bother me… yet… Instead I’d like to show you around a cemetery which I like to swing by on the way home from work. Don’t be concerned, it’s not a fascination with death which brings me here, it’s the naturalized blanket of creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) which weaves through the grass and flowers at this time of year.
I have no idea if the phlox here were planted originally or came in on their own, but the church financed lawn care hasn’t been intense enough to wipe out the spread of wildflowers between the gravestones. I also believe a kind soul is in charge of the mowing since I saw signs of a recent cut, but only a few patches of the thicker grass were mown and the best flower patches were spared the blade.
Over the decades ‘mildly maintained’ graveyards have a way of picking up flowers and when I have the chance I often give them a looking over for spring flowers, iris plantings, and the occasional rose bush. Someday I hope to find that snowdrop filled meadow, but so far…
Phlox subulata is a plant native to the Northeastern part of this country, and occasionally I also see it growing in rocky outcroppings or gravely roadsides, but never as thickly as it does in graveyards. It’s not a shade plant, so probably as the East coast has grown up in trees or been improved with bluegrass turf, cut and sprayed to golf course quality, this sun loving phlox has been squeezed out and into much smaller locales.
Of course creeping phlox is still growing all over, in foundations plantings and mulch beds everywhere, and in my own childhood garden I’m pretty sure a big chunk of every summer was spent weeding grass blades out of my mother’s phlox planting. As you know though, a grass-free planting of creeping phlox is pretty much impossible.
Why fight it then? Just plant your phlox right in the grass 🙂
Easier said than done though. Most lawns are too fertile and the grass and other more common weeds like creeping charlie, dandelions, and white clover will dominate. *My own lawn is an excellent example of this…
I think more lawns used to be like this. If you travel the older parts of town the lawns are often flecked with all kinds of flowers, both native and introduced, and I think it’s a much more interesting look than the hyped-up green swards which dominate suburbia.
So I hope this little trip to the churchyard was enjoyable. Benign neglect can be a great thing and I may keep this in mind as I consider the ‘wildflowers’ which the rain has brought up throughout my own garden.
Have a great week, and a happy mother’s day to all the moms!