29 April 2016

Leap Year

The woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) was purchased at the annual spring garden sale at the local botanical garden, Green Spring. I do like to grow natives and feel a bit of guilt because I do not exclusively limit my garden to them. This one was sold in the native plant vendor section. It did not have much of a label, except for "Woodland Phlox".

My newfound native came with a small cluster of flowers on a thin but upright stalk. It was planted in a lightly shaded bed with shade compatriots tradescantia, hosta, and astilbe and hydrangea, in the forefront front of them all. The internet says to expect a height of 12-inches (30 cm). The plant stopped blooming in summer and did not do anything for the rest of the year. Early morning sun bathed the area, but for most of the day it received dappled shade under an ever increasing neighbor's maple tree to the south.

Last year, it started to spread. There was an upright section that produced clusters of spring blooms, and a horizontal section that spread out flat to the ground. But it did have several flower stalks clustered together, indicating that it was growing.

It survived that nasty winter. Natives can survive beasts and weather in the wild, but sometimes do not survive me.

All those horizontal sections running along the surface of the ground last year produced dozens of flower stalks this year. The result is a mound of light blue, slightly fragrant flower clusters. If memory serves me, I was able to enjoy these flowers for over a month.

This wildflower phlox is native to woodlands of the eastern United States, north from Quebec, south to Texas. Yes, I know Quebec is Canada. Woodland phlox likes moist, fertile, loose soil. I have one out of three with my Virginia clay -- moist clay.

Common cultivars are 'Blue Moon' most resembling my plant, and 'Clouds of Perfume.' The flowers have nectar in the base of the long tubes, so insects need long tongues to get to it. Butterflies and hummingbirds are supposed like them best. I like them second best. They bloom at a place in the yard where hydrangea, hosta, and astilbe are still getting ready for their show to come later.

For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with mulch and organic amendments
  • Mostly shade
  • Very little fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: azalea, viburnum, dutch iris, coreopsis


John said...
I've tried planting the wild phlox several times and can't get it to persevere. The horticultural version runs wild all over the yard. Go figure. Anyway, I will give it another try this year. It should fit well in my little woodland section.
Linda said...
We were admiring these wildflowers along the roadsides today.
Swimray said...
I looked at several cultivars blooming at Merrifield Garden Center, and did not find any match my plant, so I guess mine is the true native species.
Have never seen these in the wild.
Casa Mariposa said...
I don't have this particular native phlox but I did add phlox pilosa to the garden and really like it. It takes more drought than the woodland phlox, I think. Plus, it grows a bit taller. I have many natives in my shady beds. I also added a naturally variegated zigzag goldenrod that thrives in dry shade. :o)
joanna uk said...
Why the guilt over a mixed garden?>

I love that phlox and keep on hoping it comes back each year. For us here in the UK it is not a wild flower. We have to get it from a nursery. I love the scent, and here it is called P. "clouds of perfume".
Swimray said...
Some gardeners are exclusively 'native' gardeners around here. This phlox helps keep me in the ball game.
Swimray said...
I never heard of a variegated zigzag goldenrod and had to look that one up on Google images. The photos were all over the place, so I expect to see it on your blog later.
Les said...
Not that you are I have anything to worry about, but I have heard the bunnies love it.