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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in Phlox (3)


When New Phlox Perennials Are Hard to Find

PHLOX PANICULATA AUTUMN JOYNew introductions of Phlox paniculata are usually offered in my area by online plant seller Veseys. Those hybrids offered in their spring catalogue that appealed to me finally arrived by post the other day and are now planted.  I hope they flower true to their photos and not as a variation of an already existing variety. Here are the four I chose:

Phlox Anastasia. This hybrid is expected to reach 3 feet in height. I was attracted to the color description; bright pink is a pleasant addition to the summer garden.

Phlox Autumn Joy, captioned above, belongs at the front of the border because it grows only two feet tall; it blooms in a rich, violet purple with unique violet blue streaks.

Phlox Cleopatra is considered disease resistant. Growing to three feet tall, it has unusual star-shaped flowers with an extra layer of petals. Along with a cherry-pink petal shade, its description as very free blooming is intriguing.

Phlox Rainbow Dancer is another disease resistant variety, growing to three feet in height. Its claim to fame is the vibrancy of its flowers that combine tones of pink and lavender–blue, the appearance of which varies with the amount of natural light.

Phlox paniculata is one of the most satisfying summer flowering perennials one can grow in USDA Zone 4 and Canada Zone 5. It contributes a vibrant coloration to the flower border from July to September while the ease with which it can be propagated by root division is a gardener’s delight.

For many years, the varieties of Phlox remained relatively the same with a new shade introduced every now and then but still looking similar to a pre-existing cousin.

When the garden industry recognized the consumers’ demand for fresh and unique looking perennials, the frequency with which new Phlox varieties appeared increased. However, that did not guarantee that a local nursery might be a reliable source of supply. Most retailers and wholesalers wait until a new hybrid acquires a proven track record for performance and sustainability before adding it to their inventory.

As a result, most new Phlox introductions must be purchased online. The upside is that the selection is vast while the down side is that small Phlox plants delivered by mail usually flower only in the second year. Since all Phlox plant seedlings look similar, it's a good idea to label the plants with weather proof tags. I've had no success with plant tag longevity in the past. This year I will expereiment with white plant tag spikes purchased from a Dollar Store and write on them with a china marker. I can only hope that the black wax of the marker will survive two seasons of sun and snow until the new plants bloom to identify themselves.


A Perennial Garden in Bloom

Here is a long shot of a July flowerbed, in USDA Zone 4b, that flanks the path to my front door. It took many seasons before I got the combination of plants, bloom times, and colors just right. Since then, the bed has remained untouched and has re-bloomed for many years with precise reliability.

Except for Platycodon that requires staking [because it kneels to the sun] all of the plants are very low maintenance. They are neat, upright, grow in clumps and now at maturity require little or no feeding. Also, they are unaffected by current weather patterns that bring bouts of severe heat and drought followed by torrential rains.Their strong root system, developed over many years in my garden, seems to give them the strength to perform reliably as if they were wild flowers, native to this growing zone. Yet, they are actually foreign plants that have adapted well.

Blue Platycodon is seen in the lower left corner of a shot that captures several varieties of Phlox, a lemon-yellow Hemerocalis that might be either Happy returns or Hyperion, Liatris, Rainbow Knock Out Rose in its white phase, and in the distant right, Rose Bonica in its faded July cycle, one month before it begins its richer pink August re-blooming.


Lord Clayton, a Vibrant Phlox Paniculata Perennial

Image courtesy of Plantes NouveauThere are so many varieties of Phlox paniculata growing in my garden that I rarely need to add another one to my shopping list. And yet, every season, without fail, I finds a new cultivar that I must have. Phlox paniculata  Lord Clayton is a traffic stopper that is already on my list for next spring.

Image courtesy of Plantes NouveauImagine a combination of red and purple on one plant. The flower is an unusual cherry red and the foliage emerges in a combination of deep purple with lime colored stems and veins, later transitioning to deep purple-green. Best news of all is that this plant is highly resistant to powdery mildew, an essential attribute for all new Phlox.

Image courtesy of North Creek Nursery.Many of my clients will be pleased with the foliage of this new cultivar. So many of them ask me to make purple a dominant shade in my color compositions. This plant will be a welcome addition to the repertoire.

Like most Phlox, this plant grows best in sun, reaches 24 to 34 inches in height and is hardy in zones 4 to 8.