June 29, 2009

Guarding the Phlox

Deer eat phlox and rabbits eat phlox. However, I'm determined to grow my favorite perennial phlox paniculata varieties for summer blooms.

To keep the deer away, I grow all of the garden phlox inside the cottage garden fence. The rabbits fit under the fence. Since planting a few new varieties this year, I've had to spray an organic repellent on the tender young phlox.

The tall garden phlox that I grow:

unknownwarm salmon pink; 2-4 feet; zones 4-8
Robert Pooredeep pink; 2-4 feet; zones 4-8
Davidwhite; 2-4 feet; zones 4-8
Nickyrich purple; 3-4 feet; zones 4-8

Since the salmon pink doesn't work well with the deep pink that I favor, this phlox is mixed with the blue flowers of hardy geranium 'Brookside' and platycoden. At her feet, is heliotropium amplexicaule 'Azure Skies' a perennial ground cover with blue-lavender blooms. This year, some of the blooms appearing from this plant have reverted to a deep pink-purple. I'm going to mark these stems with floral tape so that I can divide and move them this fall.

Phlox 'Robert Poore' is an outstanding performer that bloomed from late June until early autumn last year. The deep lavender blooms work well with purple foliage plants such as heuchera 'Palace Purple'. I also use a mass planting of 'Robert' in front of the stone chimney behind a semi-circle of Indian Hawthorne evergreen shrubs.

This spring, I added phlox 'David' beside the Knock Out® Roses 'Radrazz'. The rabbits found the new, tender perennial and ate the top off. That's when I started spraying the phlox with I MUST GARDEN Rabbit Repellent every two weeks. The white phlox is shorter due to the pruning and has just started to bloom. I have also planted geranium 'Rozanne', annual ageratum and petunias in purple at the feet of the 'David' phlox. The geranium has to be protected from rabbits, too.

Another new addition is phlox 'Nicky' that is a very rich, deep purple. This was an impulse buy, so 'Nicky' is currently being tried out with the yellow border as it advances into the hot summer. However, I think 'Nicky' is a bit too red for the yellow border, so I will transplant the six young plants to the large cottage garden bed that includes purple coneflowers, raspberry monarda, purple agastache, salvia guarantica and salvia greggii.

Phlox grows in full sun and should be watered regularly at the base of the plant and needs good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew. Phlox provides huge blooms for the summer garden and attracts bees and butterflies. With so many colors to choose from, it's a great perennial for the garden!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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