Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table:   12th Sept. – 18th Sept.

“One of the most imposing border plants – planted in groups of three or more they are an impressive sight – their beautiful scent and flowers are highly attractive to bees and butterflies and make them a good cut flower.” I found this description in a catalogue and I thought what more is there to write to convince you to buy one? The flower we are talking about continues to show off its vibrant colours right into the autumn and is known as fragrant phlox.

Botanical Name: Phlox  Paniculata:   Common Name: (Perennial) Phlox.

Phlox is a genus of many different flowers, including low growing, annuals, and perennials but the most showy flowers are the ones that belong to the group ‘Phlox paniculata’. It is a common cottage garden plant that brightens up the late summer border. Because it grows to around 80 cm it is extremely useful as a cut flower. The leaves are just plain linear leaves, but when the flowers arrive bright and cheery whilst all other summer plants are beginning to show signs of age, they steal the show.

Phlox PaniculataThe interesting flower is a large corymb made up of tens of small 2-3 cm star shaped flower with the appearance of a bright upturned cone, many call it the ‘summer lilac’ as its panicles look similar  to the lilac shrub. The colours vary from white to purple going through all shades of red and pink. Many varieties have a contrast colour in the eye of every tiny flower or a picottee edge . The variety ‘Phlox Maculate’ is very similar but the flowers are formed on a straight lance instead of a cone. There are varieties with variegated leaves ( Harlequin with purple flowers) – personally I would never have bred this variety as I think they look better with a plain leaf as the variagation does not match the flower – but that is a matter of choice.

Buying and planting guide.

All good garden centres and catalogues have a large selection of colours .Cuttings with a bit of root attached or full division of clumps in Spring and autumn will all make easy new plants. When new leaves emerge in spring keep control of slugs even before you see them as they have a special appetite for phlox leaves!

Cutting guide:

They are long lasting in the vase and they have a strong fragrance. The fragrance has an  interesting flavour to it – some like it but some loathe it