Thursday’s Feature: Allium flavum ssp. tauricum

This week’s feature is a mouthful, one unlikely to be spoken while browsing the plant racks at Home Depot or even on the tables of your better nurseries.  It’s not particularly showy or amazing, but all the same it’s showy and amazing and I’m glad to have it here in the garden.

allium flavum ssp tauricum

Allium flavum ssp tauricum, a range of pastel flower colors as well as a range of foliage colors, from straight green to blue-gray.

This small, summer blooming allium is one of those onions which may surprise gardeners who typically think of flowering onions as mostly purple, and mostly late spring bloomers, but here it is in all its early summer, pastel tones.  Mine came via the North American Rock Garden Society seed exchange (another mouthful) and were labeled “ex McDonough”.  For those of you not in the onion know,  Mark McDonough is the onion man, essentially a global authority on all things allium and if you’re interested he hosts a website called PlantBuzz to which I heartily recommend a visit.  If you can’t find anything interesting on his site I’m going to guess you stopped reading my post after the first few sentences, but if you’re still with me give it a click… if only to look at wonder upon the different forms of even something as simple as chives!

allium flavum ssp tauricum

Another view, same clump…. Allium flavum ssp tauricum ex McDonough.  I feel like my onions have quite the pedigree 🙂

Regular plain old Allium flavum (yellow onion) doesn’t have the range of pale, pink, and rusty tones which the subspecies tauricum shows, but I think they’re both equally easy to grow.  Mine were planted in February of 2013, the pot went outdoors and the seeds came up that spring.  The first flowers showed the year after and other than digging and spreading the clump out a bit two years ago they’ve been plugging along in a full sun spot ever since with no help from me.

allium flavum ssp tauricum

Last year’s seedlings blooming for the first time… less diverse, but still nice!

For as easy to grow as they are you would think they could be a pest, but I have yet to see a single seedling come up on its own.  They just politely do their thing and all I do is clean up a few dead leaves and flower stems once flowering is finished… they are an evergreen onion, so there’s some foliage all year even after things die down a bit in August.

Keep your eyes open for A. flavum ssp tauricum and grab it if you have the chance.  Also if you have the chance, give Cosmos and Cleome a visit to see what Kimberly and other bloggers are featuring this Thursday.  Each week she encourages us to focus on a single plant and it’s fun seeing which favorites show up on other gardener’s blogs  You’re more than welcome to join, and if you do leave a link on Kimberley’s blog so we can come find you!

Introducing ‘Blue Spot’

In a brutal world where a person were limited to growing just two plants, I’d chose snowdrops and phlox.  Snowdrops have an awfully long ‘down’ season, but phlox carry on through the summer and if you can assume that this cruel two-plants-only world doesn’t have any other issues going on, I think phlox season would keep me pretty happy.  The phlox family is an attractive family to begin with, but today I’m talking tall garden phlox, Phlox paniculata.  Purists would call them North American native plants, but native flower is not something I think of when they burst into bloom, and as phlox season ramps up around here I can’t picture these hybrids fooling anyone into adding them into their patriotic natives only planting schemes.

phlox paniculata

phlox paniculata in the ‘Potager’… formerly known as the vegetable garden.

I’m stretching things with the native part as I know most people are not putting these plants in as part of a program to make America great again, and are rather planting natives for their attractions and benefits to native pollinators and wildlife, so I guess if I have a point here (since as usual I’m all over the place this morning) it’s that these were once wildflowers but now fit right in with the fancy delphiniums and chrysanthemums.

phlox salmon beauty

Phlox ‘Salmon Beauty’ (1940’s intro).  Sorry about the dried up grass in the background, but this phlox is just glowing today.  

There’s a real risk that the phlox will slowly take over the potager completely and leave me with zero space for actual vegetables, but that’s a chance I’ll take.  It’s not the idea spot for them since the relentless sun and drying winds invite pests such as spider mites in, but as long as I keep them fairly well watered and make sure their diet is complete (they enjoy a rich soil), the phlox do well enough.

phlox cabot pink

Phlox ‘Cabot Pink’.  Several of the phlox I grow are heirlooms from the pre-WWII era when Europe (which included England back then) was putting out some of the best phlox varieties yet seen.  “Cabot Pink’ may or may not be one of these as its name d after the Cabot Vermont town in which it’s been passed around, and may or may not be the original name. 

Like I said, although “the phlox do well enough” here, not everyone is completely happy.  The 1990 Piet Oudolf introduction ‘Blue Paradise’ has yet to take off.  Flowering is no problem with even the most pathetic stalk blooming, but it’s been floppy and mildewy and just plain miserable in its spot (everything which it’s supposed to not be).  Of course I’m to blame since it seems to take off for everyone else, but maybe this fall I can move it and find just the right location to cheer him up.

phlox blue paradise

The “blue” morning color of phlox ‘Blue Paradise’.  The color changes with time of day and temperature which is cool, but so far I haven’t been able to change his slumping nature and unenthusiastic growth rate.  Here he is flopped over onto the boxwood hedge, which is the only thing keeping him up out of the dirt.  

Ok, so here’s my latest favorite phlox.  It’s ‘Blue Spot’, a newer introduction which for some reason I can’t seem to find any information on just now.  For some reason 2008 introduction by way of a Connecticut nursery comes to mind, but I’ll likely have to update that when I figure it out.  This plant came to my garden last fall by way of Perennial Pleasures Nursery, a Vermont nursery which has the best phlox offerings I’ve seen, and fortunately also does mailorder!

phlox blue spot

Phlox ‘Blue Spot’

My plant still needs some growing to do, but in spite of multiple woodchuck grazings, it’s managed to put up a few flower stalks.  I love the bluish swirls and I think it gets this pattern from another favorite, ‘Blushing Shortwood’ which may or may not be a parent (again… top of my head).

phlox blue spot

A closeup.  In my mixed up world of color naming, I’m calling this a blueberry stain on a white background.

I look forward to seeing this one clump up and hopefully avoid another run-in with the local wildlife.  So far my theory of letting weeds grow up around it to hide it from attack has been working, but that has its downsides as well… we will see, just like you will likely see plenty more phlox photos as the season rolls on.  We still have all of July and August you know!

Have a great weekend, and a happy and safe Fourth of July.

The front border among other things

It stopped raining long enough this afternoon for me to get out there and do some watering.  The deluge of nearly 1/10 of an inch did little more than dampen the top layer of mulch and cancel a Little League game, but it was enough to cool things down at least.  Maybe it also gave the pestering hordes of gnats a nice drink as well, God only knows they must be getting tired of sipping my blood and sweat all month.  Here’s how the lawn out front looked yesterday morning.

dormant lawn

Needless to say I don’t bother watering the lawn.  I feel like watering the lawn is a gateway drug to bagging clippings, spraying for weeds, thatching, aerating, spraying for grubs… all those tedious chores which would ruin this vacation from mowing.  On the down side it looks like crap until the rains come back.

I hope my crabbiness about the weather doesn’t come on too thick.   Weatherwise I feel like I’m riding one of those shoddy, barely-passed-inspection carnival rides where you get thrown back and forth between burning and freezing, drought and flood, and all you want is Dramamine and a Tylenol when it comes to a stop.  Maybe today’s misting and this week’s milder temperatures will improve my outlook.  I think it will, especially when there are flowers toughing it out and cheering me up.

linaria purpurea

A new one this year is Linaria purpurea (toadflax), a hopefully hardy and long blooming airy perennial which was seeded out last year. The seed was supposed to be for ‘Canon Went’, a pink version, but only one or two stalks came true. No big deal as I like it just fine in the regular lilac-blue color.

I’ve done next to nothing on the front border since mulching it with shredded leaves in March… and weeding and deadheading once in May.  That’s great because it still looks decent enough, but not so great since I like to add a few patches of hard working annuals and tropicals in there to brighten up the summer months.  This pattern of neglect isn’t way out of the ordinary though, so even if it’s getting late for annuals I’m 99% sure that if I finally get it planted there will still be a decent show… but I’m not doing the same for the foundation bed.  It’s so dry the majority of the perennials are wilted and dying and I have no desire to even look at it long enough to even consider carving out a few watered spots for annuals.  The blue fescue border was de-seeded last weekend and in general it looks good enough, so I’ll leave it at that.

blue fescue border

I pulled off all the fescue seed heads and the foundation planting will just have to stay like this for the summer… although I may have to airlift out a few hellebores.  They look terrible all flat and yellowing and it may be time to find them a spot in the backyard with a little shade.

It’s curious to me how some years an odd balance tips and suddenly your most reliable standards vanish.  This year the front border is missing the hordes of rudbeckia which dominated last summer and in their place is a nice wash of rose campion (Lychnis coronaria).  Many people look down on this old fashioned, reseeding, short-lived perennial, but I love it for its tolerance of droughty soils, its soft gray foliage, and its cheerfully bright flowers.  It’s a perfect compliment to the nearly-a-weed white of the oxeye daisies.

allium seedheads

The front border from the near end.  This perspective is perfect for avoiding all the gaps and holes which become apparent when the border is admired head on 🙂

My absolute favorite right now isn’t even a flower though, its the dried round seedheads of allium ‘Pinball Wizard’.  Big fluffy spheres which seem to float above the border are just perfect this year and I’m planning on lifting the bulbs this week to spread them out a bit (the original single bulb has split into four now and I don’t want it to have any overcrowding issues.

lychnis coronaria rose campion

Rose campion, oxeye daisies, and another view of my lovely allium seed heads.  Might as well enjoy the dried stalks since everything else seems to be on its way to drying up completely as well.

Once you move towards the far end of the border things go downhill fast.  Everything in this border gets done from the near end to the far, and unless I’m making a strong effort to be fair, all the good plants, best mulch, nicest compost, most delicate pampering…. all that happens at the one end and rarely carries all the way through to the other side.  I’m pretty sure that the most obvious solution to this problem is to make the border wider again.  More room, more plants, more excitement… the natural choice when faced with a border which might already be a little too much work 🙂

late June perennial border

If I can get a shovel down into the rock hard lawn I could easily bring this border out another foot or two without interfering with third base (which is usually located right next to the chartreuse leaves of the ‘Golden Sunshine’ willow).  I’ll just need to plant something which can handle a few missed kickballs and base overruns.  

Digging will have to wait until August at earliest.  Who knows what there will be left to plant in August, but we’re approaching phlox season and no bed digging is worth the risk of interfering with flowering phlox enjoyment.  Just today one of my new ones opened and it is so amazing I’m sure you’ll see it here shortly.  Wow is all I can say, and to be honest I haven’t been this completely excited about a new flower since at least last week.

the potager in June

The potager in June with its freshly mulched beds, newly concrete-reinforced rebar archway, and the first bright reds and pinks of tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).  There are even a few vegetables planted (although the boxwood still needs trimming).

With all the work I’ve done recently in weeding and trimming you might be able to tell I’m now trying to catch up on the blogging.  Well, blogging and watering of course… but please bear with me as sore muscles recover indoors and I throw out a bunch of posts in what might be too little time, and please feel free to skip commenting or even ‘liking’ since I’d hate to wear out my welcome!

Enjoy your week and I’ll be back Thursday to join up with Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome for her Thursday Feature.  Maybe I’ll even feature the new phlox, although saying that pretty much guarantees a woodchuck or deer attack tonight…

Tuesday View: The Tropics 6.28.16

Two of my favorite bloggers are bringing back a meme which I’ve always enjoyed.  Cathy of Words and Herbs and Kimberley of Cosmos and Cleome both highlight a longer view each Tuesday and we get to see it develop and change as the year passes.  I’m no expert on the meme but I think Cathy sticks to a specific viewpoint and time while Kimberly varies the perspective and location depending on what’s going on in the garden.  Myself on the other hand am barely capable of getting any post up in a given week, so to keep it simple I’m going to follow Cathy’s lead and go with one view, same bed, same point each week and see if I can handle that.  Also since the tropical bed went in last week (about time since it’s already past the solstice and well into summer) I’m going to highlight this bed as my view, and (hopefully) watch as it grows up. 

Tropical garden

My fingers are crossed that over the next few weeks this bed will become an explosion of color and foliage and maybe bring a taste of the tropics to this end of NE Pennsylvania.

I’ll try to keep this short, since assuming things grow I want to save a little material for future posts, but besides the thrill of actually getting most of the plants in last week I always get a little excited checking this patch each day to see how quickly things progress.  All season bloomers which sit as a lump of color and put out the same old flowers each week bore me a little, and even though I can appreciate someone wanting low maintenance, neat color, I want something that sneaks up on you and then overwhelms you, like a horticultural tsunami!  Hence the tropical garden, and anything bright and big and leafy is more than welcome.

papyrus with black forest rose

The papyrus was not happy last year and I suspect it didn’t get nearly as much water as it wanted so instead of planting it in the ground again I placed it in a pot submerged in a second pot full of water.  Green water.  So far the reviews of this planting have not been 100% favorable.

You can’t really tell from the tiny sprigs, twigs, and tubers, but this year’s theme is orange and purple.  That’s not a solid theme, it’s more my mood when I’m out picking up annuals or choosing which dahlias to put here versus in other parts of the garden… or finding a flat of orange zinnias on sale and liking zinnias.  So until the oranges fill in, hot pink and purple will have to do for a theme.  Besides the annuals, perennials have a way of sneaking in everywhere, and although I pulled a wheelbarrow full of daisies and transplanted dozens of chrysanthemums, there are still a few things such as this knockout rose and purple ‘Caradonna’ salvia which are just too colorful to stand up to.  Maybe next year will be the year I follow through on my threats to remove the salvias.

knockout rose with caradonna salvia

The ultra rare and uncommon ‘Knockout’ rose tastefully complimented with orange zinnias at its feet and scavenged lawn clippings as mulch.  This Tuesday view already promises to reek of class each week 🙂

So there you have it.  By next week I hope to have a few cannas sprouting and a few more zinnias assaulting your color senses and overall I really hope things don’t end up requiring a rototiller and a fresh start by August.

Think about joining in with the view and if you do leave a link at either Cathy‘s or Kimberley’s blog so we can find you.  Not to put words in their mouths but I’m sure both will agree “the more the merrier” and I always enjoy watching another garden grow throughout the season… even if it does turn into a trashy mess of too much color and chaos!

A good foundation

Normally pictures of the front foundation border are avoided.  This area qualifies as one of my least favorite views probably because the plantings do little to set off or relate to the house.  They’re kind of a mess come to think of it, but believe it or not they’ve come a long way <click here to see>.  Our visit starts with a stroll up the front walk past the welcome squirrel and edging by the ‘Tiger Eyes’ cutleaf sumac, which threatens to engulf all visitors.

tiger eyes cutleaf sumac

Which is too much?  The overwhelming yellow, the tacky lamp décor, or the too-red petunias?

The right side of the house is fronted by the porch, and in front of the porch is a pretty generic planting of evergreens and hostas.  They do a great job of being green and covering up the beds which house my favorite snowdrops and corydalis earlier in the year.

phlox and rudbeckia

Of course a rudbeckia would show up here as well.  This is one of the completely perennial and later blooming R. fulgens types, and I make an effort each spring of ripping it out only to have a few stray shoots  survive anyway.  btw, The pink of the phlox ‘Laura’ with the gold of the rudbeckia is one of my least favorite color combos.

The left side of the house is my problem bed.  I tried ironing out a few of its problems earlier this year but it still makes me raise an eyebrow each time I pass.  My first after-vacation task was to pull up all the massive crabgrass plants which were taking over, and while doing this I couldn’t help but wonder why I can’t show this same resolve against the inappropriately large sunflowers which sprout up each year (in my defense I did rip most out… but once they get past a certain size it just seems wrong to yank them).

weeding crabgrass

Weeding crabgrass in August.  What gardener doesn’t know this story?

If I could only get visitors to crawl around on their hands and knees I think the impression this bed makes would be infinitely improved.

gray and red in a mixed border

The low view: Larger evergreen would probably do a better job of connecting the house to these beds, but a couple agastache, a verbascum, stray sumac suckers and a bunch of other stuff are a lot more interesting 🙂

I like how the blue fescue is filling in along the edge, it goes well enough with everything and seems to be doing ok.  I wish it would do better, but I haven’t yet cracked the fescue code on what really makes it clump up and fill in.

pepper masquerade seedlings

For some reason peppers seemed like a good  candidate for a foundation planting this year.  Last summer I bought a single ‘Masquerade’ ornamental pepper and these are its seedlings.  The purple fruits should go to yellow then orange then red as they mature, but a few plants are starting out yellow, and I don’t know what they have planned. 

My unknown biennial eryngium turned out to be a perennial and is back for another show this summer.  If you can avoid the masses of wasps and bees the flowers attract it’s really a pleasant all summer cloud of blue-grey.

water wise plants

The mix of colors at this end of the border almost looks tasteful if you ignore the sunflowers peeking in on the right. 

Most of the plantings here are haphazard and either work or fail by luck, but the pairing of the blue fescue and pinkish ‘bon bon’ sedum was intentional.  I’m pleased with the contrast of the sedum coming up out of the fescue and it’s just what I was hoping for… as long as you overlook the sorta sparseness of the fescue.

sedum 'bon bon' with blue fescue

Sedum ‘bon bon’ with blue fescue and iris pallida aureo-variegata.

Things which didn’t work out quite as well were the cobweb thistles which drowned in our rainy July and the variegated St. Augustine grass which looks just a little too weedy.  I know it’s me though since I’ve seen it growing awesomely elsewhere and as a result I’m considering digging it up and trying it elsewhere, like in a pot… maybe even scissor trimming it for a neat little pot o’lawn 🙂

variegated st Augustine grass

Variegated st Augustine grass, ‘Alabama sunset’ coleus, more sumac, and an up and coming cardoon seedling.

Now off to the backyard!  My fingers are crossed we can get around the whole house by September 😉

Color for the neighbors

It’s a small slice of suburbia in which I live.  There’s nothing I consider a city nearby, yet faced by the acres of surrounding forest I guess we do huddle a bit on the outskirts of a sorta urban area in a sorta subdivision…. but even with the lack of a hustle bustle and heavy traffic, I do like to have a little shelter from the street and a little color for the neighbors.  Not exactly ‘curb appeal’, a term which makes me cringe when applied to any property not listed for sale, but it’s definitely colorful and whether the neighbors like it or not (they never really say, although I’m sure they talk) it does liven the block up for the half dozen neighbors and dog walkers which actually come by this way.

rudbeckia and butterfly bush buddleia

Butterfly bush (buddleia ‘Royal Red’ and ‘Pink Delight’) are now joining the black eyed Susans which have taken over the border.  The bearded iris which dominated in June are all nearly overgrown by this time of year!

Usually this border holds a lot more late summer and autumn color.  Annuals such as zinnias castor beans, and tender perennials such as cannas and dahlias, pick up at the end of the year just as the summer perennials are beginning to look a little tired. It’s a different story this year though, as things got away from the gardener and the rudbeckias took over.

august flower border

There’s nothing subtle about golden rudbeckias, but they do match the brightness of the sun.  At this point of the year I don’t even mind the formerly ‘too bright’ orange and pink sunpatients my daughter planted along the front.

And again I won’t complain.  I love the color, it looks great from the front porch, and I’ll deal with the ‘going to seed’ phase when its time comes.  Right now I’m just amazed we’ve had enough rain to keep the grass green all summer (although the actual work of mowing all this green grass is less than amazing).

beautiful front yard

The beds do look better framed by green grass.  Not bad considering the last two years were both marked by hot, dry, completely dormant (surely dead looking) turf patches…. for three entire months…

You may remember I mulched this bed completely with barely decayed, shredded leaves this spring.  It’s worked wonders for the soil quality and number of weeds, but it also greatly reduced the number of self seeders which normally fill the bed.  Purple Verbena bonarensis and the brilliant red Ipomopsis rubra (standing cypress) are sparse this year, but Euphorbia marginata (snow on the mountain) has not missed a beat.  Even after ruthless weeding there are still plenty of the cool white bracts showing up throughout the border and I can see how this native of the west has naturalized itself all across most of the US and Canada.

euphorbia snow on the mountain

The white streaked leaves of snow on the mountain form around the tiny flowers and eventually form a large ‘tree’ of white.

The snow on the mountain will look good until fall, but several of the earlier bloomers might not.  The bright magenta blooms of Lychnis Coronaria are long gone, but I can’t bring myself to pull up the nicely branched gray spent flower stalks.  I like them and as far as I’m concerned they can stay as long as they want.

Karl Foerster feather reed lychnis coronaria

Even gone to seed some things still look good.  I’ll never get tired of ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass in the seedy stage, but this year even the Lychnis coronaria plants in front still look good.  Must be all the rain.

A backup plan isn’t the worst idea.  In my head these leftover cannas were going to go into carefully prepared spots throughout the front border.  They’ve been sitting on the driveway unplanted since April and just go to show how hardy some plants can be.

canna sprouting late

A clump of roots dumped on the concrete and still managing to grow.  A better gardener would cut their losses and move on… I’m still imagining they’ll get planted before frost 🙂

The canna were intended as a replacement for this ‘Blue Bird’ rose of Sharon.  I’ve come to the conclusion I just don’t like it and want it out…. no real reason, just something about it bugs me…

rose of Sharon blue bird seedlings

The blue flowers are the original ‘Blue Bird’ Rose of Sharon plant, the pink are up and coming seedlings.  My question of whether or not they come true from seeds was answered by a no, and I’m glad to now know for sure!  btw- the big leaf in front is Angelica gigas, a plant which I’m hoping will be *very* cool!

A plant which does NOT bug me is hydrangea ‘Limelight’.  Right now it’s just going from lime to pure white and it’s a mountain of soft flower heads and I admire it every day.  Personally I feel like the plant doesn’t like me, since it always seems just a little short of water and lacking just a little bit of fertilizer but apparently it doesn’t hold that against me and blooms reliably each summer.  The bush is up to about six feet now and I should really take a few cuttings to try it in a better location and see what it’s really capable of!

hydrangea limelight

Hydrangea ‘limelight’ hanging over into the street.

Something that didn’t need a better location are all the sunflowers which returned.  Here’s a 5+ foot tall plant which somehow managed to grow out of a less than 1/2 inch crack in the concrete edging along the street.

sunflower growing in crack

Sometimes you can’t hold a good plant down. 

The hydrangea isn’t all for the benefit of the neighbors, I see plenty of it from the house as well and its mature size does a good job in balancing out the masses of gold and the large clump of variegated giant reed grass (arundo) at the border’s end.  Have I mentioned my love for this grass?  It’s listed as invasive in the deep south, but up here in the cold North its vigor is just enough to make it exciting.

mixed perennial border

The street border from the far end.  Golden rudbeckias still dominate but I’m fine with that 🙂

You may have noticed the fluffy white seedheads of one of this years favorite plants (although I may be alone in my favor for this spiny, poky almost-weed).  The lackluster mauve, bottlebrush blooms of the Ptilostemon diacantha were nothing to go ga-ga over, but the seed heads are interesting enough and you can still make out some of that awesome foliage as it slowly dies off.  I’m going to make a point of collecting these in a few days since the thistle seedheads look suspiciously weedy.

Ptilostemon diacantha seed heads

Ptilostemon diacantha.  The name is a mouthful and I far prefer the name suggested by Linda B.  “Ghost thistle” sounds almost friendly!

So that’s the front border.  It takes a little bit of work to get it cleaned up in the spring, I’m always looking for ways to ‘tweek’ the plantings, but for the most part when the perennials take over (like they did this year) it’s one of the lower maintainence areas in the yard.  A smarter person would stick with this plan, but I’m already considering removals and bulking up the annuals again.  Annuals are a lot of work 🙂

One “maybe” problem could be in the colors.  My weakness for yellow foliage is really showing and adding a few darker shades might not be the worst idea.  Hmmm, maybe I can replace the invasive burning bush with a nice purple smokebush?  Something to consider….

yellow foliage in the garden

Lots of yellow.  I think all the best gardens are avoiding yellow these days….

From the front border we’ll go to the foundation plantings.  They’ve taken off a bit as well!

Phantastic Flox

I’ll try not to go on too long.  Phlox paniculata is one of my favorite flowers and it’s blooming now, and although my garden doesn’t give the best conditions for amazing phlox (rich soil, even moisture, maybe some afternoon shade) it gives me good enough phlox.  Phlox (along with snowdrops and cyclamen)  have always been among my favorites, and now that I have the room I might as well indulge myself.  Here are a couple that are making me happy right now 🙂

phlox nicky and laura

From the left it’s ‘Laura’, darker ‘Nicky’, and random pink and white seedlings.

I will grow just about any phlox I can get my hands on but should really start to show a little self control…. or not.  I love working in the vegetable patch when the breeze has that nice spicy phlox perfume on it.  The hummingbirds and butterflies seem to appreciate it too.

phlox seedling

This white phlox seedling is one of my favorites, nothing really special, but it’s so reliable. The pink is also a seedling and I like the color but it doesn’t bloom as long as some of the others. I keep it mostly for the odd darker centered leaves… which look slightly diseased when I think on it, but it’s all mine so it’s special.

I know all the books say to deadhead and rip out stray seedlings which sprout since they will overrun your better named phlox, but I’m a little funny about just accepting what people tell me…. plus I’m curious to see if they’ll really all turn out as ugly as the books say (I do still read books btw).  Last year this one was a little congested and washed out,  I almost tossed it and now I’m glad I didn’t.  The cooler weather this summer has brought out some nicer color, and a leaner diet has left it with neater flower heads and I’m again seeing some of the qualities that made me single it out in the first place.  I love the height too, it’s close to five feet.

tall garden phlox

No-name phlox, still nice with it’s white centers and a color that just about matches the verbena bonariensis behind it.

Nearly all my phlox look a little sickly due to a dry spring and summer which really brought on the spider mites.  Spraying them off with the water hose and a little fertilizer seems to have discouraged the mites but the damage remains in the form of yellowed and spotty leaves.  Strangely enough my variegated ‘Nora Leigh’ has the nicest leaves of all, which surprises me since variegated plants are always supposed to be a little weaker compared to the regular version.

phlox nora leigh

Green grass would be a nicer backdrop for the foliage of ‘Nora Leigh’ but I guess the neighboring fig leaves will have to do.

I’ve been obsessing a bit on the darker colored varieties.  ‘Starfire’ is supposed to be especially bright and I think that’s what this is.  I don’t know how the mite damaged leaves can support all the bloom it has but they do and I’m glad for it.

phlox paniculata seedlings

‘Starfire’ (maybe?) is definitely bright and probably shouldn’t be right next to white, but it happens. I’m thinking next year it deserves an extra serving of compost for this wonderful performance in the face of adversity.

I’ve been adding new ones here and there.  This spring I ordered a nice batch from Perennial Pleasures up in Vermont and was generally pleased with the plants I received.  One died a few days after I got it, but I didn’t even bother complaining since I was so happy to have finally found a place which has such an awesome selection of phlox online.  Hmmm, I wonder if another order this fall would be too soon 🙂

phlox blue paradise

Phlox ‘blue paradise’ is a new one and it’s of the kind that change their color throughout the day. Cool mornings give a rich blue shade which fades to violet as the day heats up.

My local nursery is pretty good about having a few new phlox each year so they tend to follow me home whenever I make a visit.  Here’s ‘Blushing Shortwood’ which joined me last summer… and then spent most of the year sitting in its pot on the driveway.  I’m glad to see it hasn’t held this against me.

phlox blushing shortwood

Phlox ‘blushing shortwood’ with it’s nicely bicolored blooms. The pink seems to fade as the thermometer rises but it’s still a nice flower.

I have a few others but don’t want to overdo it so I’ll stop here.  There’s always next year to do it again, and maybe by then I will have turned the entire tropical garden into a phlox field.  Now there’s an idea 🙂

Have a great week!