Perhaps it is a certain reluctance to let go of summer, because every year at this time I find myself searching for ways to extend the flowering season.
I poke around nurseries, which are largely empty in late summer, looking for something to catch my eye.
The majority of gardeners tend shop for plants in the spring. A natural inclination is to choose something with a bloom attached. Hey, I do it too! You want to know what you are getting after all. The problem with this selection method is that it often means that you have a garden filled with early summer flowers, and nothing but green come mid-August.
To get further pointers on late bloomers, I also like to visit other gardens and take note of plants in flower.
For fun, I thought that I would do a series of posts on late summer bloomers based on both these sources of inspiration. The first up has to be a post on that cottage garden favourite: Phlox paniculata.
Phlox are one of my favourite flowers to photograph. I love the way the flowers catch the light.
Some are sweetly fragrant, like this soft mauve colored one that I got from another gardener.
The Phlox paniculata in my garden grow in full sun, half-shade, and shade. That is quite a bit of versatility, if you ask me! From this experience, I would have to say that full sun and half-shade work best. The plants in deep shade are much slower to establish and have fewer flowers.
Phlox paniculata, 'Laura' and pink colored Phlox paniculata, 'Eva Cullum'
While beautiful, phlox do have a few drawbacks. They are slow to form a good sized clump. The phlox growing along the front of our white picket fence are 3 or 4 years in the making.
Phlox also don't appreciate drought conditions. Their leaves droop and look downright pathetic. I have had to water my plants regularly to keep them going during this year's drought.
Finally, phlox are prone to white powdery mildew. The good news is that there are lots of mildew-resistant varieties to choose from. Properly spacing the plants to allow good circulation helps to prevent problems and I have always kept this in mind when choosing a location for new plants. I still sometimes find a slight dusting of mildew late in the season, but it is never a big worry.
Recently, I went shopping for new plants and I thought that I would share my findings, along with a few planting suggestions from my garden and in other gardens that I have admired.
Available at the nursery: Top left: Phlox paniculata, Flame Series, 'Barfourteen' Top right: Phlox paniculata, 'Nicky' Bottom: Phlox paniculata,'Pixie Miracle Grace'
At Larkwhistle Garden on the Bruce Peninsula a magenta colored phlox is combined with pink roses and a creamy colored sedum in the left corner.
Phlox paniculata, 'Niki', and at its feet, Geranium, 'Rozanne'
This is a combination from my own garden.
Another mauve and pink phlox available at the nursery: Top left: Phlox paniculata,'Becky Towe' Top Right: Phlox paniculata, 'Laura'Bottom left: Phlox paniculata, 'Peppermint Twist' Bottom Right: Phlox paniculata, 'Light Pink Flame'
A combination from Larkwhistle Gardens on the Bruce Peninsula: a hot pink phlox
and a blue Globe Thistle, Echinops rito.
Another pretty combination: this time it is an unknown pink variety and Russian Sage, Perovskia Atriplicifolia at the Niagara Botanical Garden
A few of the warm mauves available at the local nursery: Top left: Phlox paniculata, 'Laura' 'Top Right: Phlox paniculata, "Speed Limit' has smaller, dainty flowers than most phlox
Bottom: Phlox paniculata, 'Little Boy'
Phlox at Lost Horizon's Nursery: Filling in at the base of a white hydrangea is a mauve-colored phlox. Below that, there are a mix of plants including: a heart-shaped brunnera, variegated Japanese sedge and an edging of bronze-colored ajuga.
I am sorry this is such a terrible picture, but I wanted to show a couple of white options. This is Phlox paniculata,'Jade'. The flowers are smaller (less floppy) than the well known variety called 'David' and are a pale, greenish-cream.
Phlox paniculata, 'David' is fragrant, and very mildew resistant. This variety is very tall and may require staking. Remove faded flowers to encourage a second round of flowers.
White phlox used at Larkwhistle garden. Here it is combined with deep blue Monkshood, red Monarda, a yellow daylily and tall yellow Helenium.
Phlox paniculata,'Creme de Menthe' is similar to variegated 'Nora Leigh' which has leaves accented with cream. 'Creme de Menthe' is splashed with a more of butter color.
I ended up buying this one. I love those creamy-yellow and green leaves.
I have decided to plant my newly purchased 'Creme de Menthe' phlox next to a blue Agastache, 'Blue Fortune'. I think I'll add a sedum into this mix (possibly Sedum 'Autumn Joy' or 'Meteor').
Another beauty at Larkwhistle Gardens. I believe this phlox with lilac-blue flowers and a darker mauve eye is Phlox paniculata, 'Frans Schubert'. Height: 80-90 cm. Unfortunately, you need to watch out for mildew on 'Frans Schubert'.
Phlox paniculata, 'Gold Mine' is a mid-sized variety (70-75 cm) with yellow edged leaves.
Not all phlox are cool shades of pink, purple and white!
Phlox paniculata, 'Coral Flame'
Again at Larkwhistle garden, a hot pink phlox is combined with white phlox, a star shaped
Caster Bean Plant, and a tall, yellow Mullein.
I think you'll agree that, if you don't have any Phlox paniculata in your garden,
you're really missing out on something at this time of the year.
Have a great weekend everyone!