Fountains of phlox flow everywhere at this time of year. As you drive the back roads in Virginia, neighbors have planted phlox along embankments, by mailboxes, and along slopes too steep to cut with the riding mower or tractor. You’ll be driving along, turn the corner, and like a trumpet blast, there’s a river of bright pink or magenta careening over the rocks on an embankment. Set against blooming white dogwoods, a native tree here that flowers at the same time, and spires of tall white flowering pears, it’s like an artist took a brush and just slashed the landscape with color.
We planted phlox along the front walk, grouped in front of the azaleas, and a few in the flower garden. Now that we know they love it here and the garden ones spread out, we bought another 10 this weekend. I added them to the steep slope in the flower garden that grows dandelions and nothing else. Hopefully by next year, we’ll see the start of our own rivers and fountains of phlox!
Phlox is amazing. It’s hardy. It spreads out, and where it grows, weeds dare not follow. Occasionally the deer will chomp the flowers off, but they leave the plants, and the plants send forth new flowers in defiance. Add some rocks or plant them among rocky outcrops in your garden and you’ve got an automatic flower garden. I never water them, fertilize them or do anything other than admire them. How much better does a plant get than this?
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.