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Phlox Frondosa - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Phlox Frondosa - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Phlox Frondosa Described.

Phlox Frondosa - Fronded P.; Nat. Ord. Polemoniaceæ.

A hardy creeper; one of the dwarf section, having half-woody, wiry stems. For this and many other species of the Creeping Phlox we are indebted to North America. Of late years these beautiful flowers have received much attention, not only from the trade, but also from amateurs, some of whom have taken much pains in crossing the species by hybridising, notably the late Rev. J. G. Nelson. Perhaps the most distinct and beautiful of all the dwarf Phloxes is the one which bears his name—the white-flowered P. Nelsoni. I have selected the species P. frondosa, because the specific name is, perhaps, beyond that of any of the others, more generally descriptive of all the following kinds: P. divaricata, P. glaberrima, P. Nelsoni (white flowers), P. reflexa, P. oculata, P. setacea, P. s. atropurpurea, P. s. violacæa, P. subulata, P. prostrata. These differ but slightly from one another, so little, indeed, that many discard the distinctions; still, they do exist, and may be clearly seen when grown close together in collections. The flowers differ in depth of colour; the leaves of some are more recurved, crossed, twisted, shining, or pointed, also broader and longer; the stems likewise differ; herein the distinctions are seen, probably, more than in either flowers or leaves. Sometimes they are, in the different species, long or short, leafy, branched, dense, arched, and divaricate, but, although at any time when their fresh foliage is upon them, and when they are so close together that the eye can take them all in at a glance, their distinctions are fairly clear, autumn is the time to see them in their most definite and beautiful form. Like many other North American plants, they have lovely autumnal tints, then their forms have rich glistening colours, and they are seen to not only differ considerably, but, perhaps, to more advantage than when in flower; but let me add at once that I have only proved these plants to take such rich autumnal colours when they have been grown so as to rest on stones, which not only keep them from excess of moisture, from worm casts, &c., but secure for them a healthy circulation of air under their dense foliage. From the above, then, it will be seen that a general description of P. frondosa will apply to the other species and varieties mentioned.

The flowers are lilac-rose; calyx, tubular; corolla of five petals, narrow and notched; leaves, awl-shaped, short, bent, and opposite; stems, branched, dense and trailing.

The dwarf Phloxes are pre-eminently rock plants, as which they thrive well; when raised from the ground level, so as to be nearly in the line of sight, they are very effective. They should be so planted that they can fall over the stones, like the one from which the illustration was drawn. For at least a fortnight the plants are literally covered with flowers, and at all times they form neat rock plants, though in winter they have the appearance of short withered grass; even then the stems are full of health, and in early spring they become quickly furnished with leaves and flowers. These Phloxes make good edgings. Notwithstanding their dead appearance in winter, a capital suggestion occurred to me by an accidental mixture of croci with the Phlox. At the time when the latter is most unseasonable the crocuses, which should be planted in the same line, may be seen coming through the browned foliage. When in flower, the blooms will not only be supported by this means, but also be preserved from splashes; when the crocuses are past their prime, the Phlox will have begun to grow, and, to further its well doing, its stems should be lifted and the then lengthened foliage of the crocuses should be drawn back to the under side of the Phlox, where it might remain to die off. This would allow the Phlox to have the full light, and the arrangement would be suitable for the edge of a shrubbery or border of herbaceous plants, or even along the walks of a kitchen garden.

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Phlox Frondosa

The Phloxes are easily propagated, either from rooted layers or cuttings. The latter should be put into a good loam and kept shaded for a week or two. Early spring is the best time.

Flowering period, March to May.

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