I am having a glorious summer with Phlox. I discovered Phlox through reading Christopher Lloyd’s Colour for Adventurous Gardeners, one of the gardening books I return to time and time again.
This has wonderful dark maroon foliage in spring. This becomes greener, but the maroon is retained in the calyces of the flower buds. They set off the flower colour beautifully.
This is not a plant for the faint-hearted. Prepare yourself.
In the bright border, more is more. This is no place for subtlety. Colour saturation is turned up to max.
Though there is an elegance of form if you look closely. The moths and butterflies love the trumpet-shaped flowers. The honeyed, burnt sugar, maple syrupy scent attracts them. And me.
A week or so after the first flush of flowers, some start to shrivel. Don’t think the fun ends there. I rather like pulling them off. They give a little ‘ah!’ as they let go. My youngest daughter, when asking me what I was doing, discovered that a quicker way is to give the whole bloom a good shake. The spent flowers fly off, like they are in a centrifuge. And this is perhaps even more fun.
Phlox is shining out from the border like a great big show-off.
Even when I try to put it in the background it photo-bombs the shot.
I can forgive it. It is marvellous.
Experimentation has taught me that you have to fight fire with fire. ‘Starfire’ loves being with the equally joyous Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’, the bursting fireworks of Buddleia ‘Royal Red’ and the black-purple prayer flags of Salvia ‘Amistad’. But it does also benefit from some quieter friends. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is there for a little chat at the end of the day.
Do you have a favourite show-off? Have you struggled to place it in the border?