March 26, 2010

Phlox on the Rocks

For a blanket of dainty spring blooms grow moss pinks! As a bonus, the evergreen foliage of the moss pinks (phlox subulata) keeps a little color on the ground year round. And, this phlox is low-maintenance and requires little water (xeric), making it a great plant for hot, sunny locations such as a rock garden.

I grow a deep pink, but there are also other shades of pink—as well as white, blue and lavender phlox subulata. A creative gardener could mix several colors to grow a stunning patchwork quilt of blooms.

Suitable for sandy, average and clay soils, phlox subulata grows well in zones 3-8b. It grows only 4-5 inches high, but spreads to around 20 inches wide. Shear the plant back by one third after the blooms finish.
While I am using a sun-loving phlox, select a woodland phlox (P. divaricata) or creeping phlox (P. stolonifera) for shaded gardens.

Save Water and Time with Xeric Garden Plants

The narrow bank of my sunny stream is a difficult space, so I am converting to xeric plants to save water and save time.

When rearranging the garden in fall 2009, I moved a few clumps of the phlox from my outer gardens to the streamside rocks in my cottage garden. No shade. No irrigation. Sunshine all day long on every sunny day of the year.

The phlox is happier, loaded with buds and beginning to bloom with great exuberance!
Phlox subulata buds will soon be in bloom
Good companions include plants with the same growing conditions as the phlox subulata. I am using agastache, allium, armeria, cheddar pinks (dianthus), lavender, grape gaillardia, rosemary, salvia, sedum, stachys and thyme. These plants provide a mix of textures, plus a variety of foliage and bloom shapes that can take the heat with little water in the summer. Additionally, most of these plants have evergreen foliage so that my cottage garden doesn't look totally bare in winter.

The color scheme is based on blue, purple and pink blooms from spring through fall—a cottage garden look with xeric plants!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.
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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