Saturday, May 30, 2009

Phlox divaricata




I've long loved wild Sweet William, the woodland phlox whose Latin name is phlox divaricata. Growing just 8" to 10", with a sweet fragrance and blossoms that sway in the early-spring breeze, this phlox is as easy as its name is complicated. I prefer 'London Grove Blue', which cheerfully spreads each year in my semi-shaded Main Garden. It blooms in concert with Bleeding Heart, just prior to the bearded iris, and lasts a couple of weeks.


But for years I kept purchasing new plants in order to increase the stand. I hadn't taught myself to recognize its seedlings and so was mulching over them or ripping them out as weeds. This spring I forced myself to slow down long enough from garden chores of edging, cleaning out the fishpond, transplanting baby trees, potting up material for the Garden Club Plant Sale, etc, and get nose-to-nose with my phlox divaricata.


Eureka! I figured out which were the choice 'London Grove' seedlings and thus worth saving. I deliberately did not mulch around them, leaving the 2-3" babies in solitary splendor, the easier to later transplant.


One of the best ways for a gardener to own more plants is to coddle her own seedlings. I've always advised students to learn the seedlings of one new plant each year. Too bad it took me so long to recognize 'London Grove'.
But I've got it now!


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