Phloxes are great garden flowers. They have beautiful blooms and smell as if they could be an ingredient in Sweet & Sour Tarts. I have had good luck growing regular garden phlox and creeping phlox, but I’ve planted dwarf phlox multiple times, and it has never made it past a season.
Two years ago, I became enchanted with woodland phlox. It ranges in color (at least those I’ve seen) from lilac to deep purple, and of course, it smells wonderful. That year, I planted the phlox in the front yard (bad idea), where it struggled in the heat. So, mid-summer, I dug it up and replanted it in the hollow of a sweet gum tree cut down two years prior. That was in the backyard, and once the heat and mosquitos show up, I rarely go out there. In other words, I planted it, then forgot about it.
Last year, I bought six woodland phlox plants, intending to plant them at the base of the sweet gum tree to replace those I had neglected from the previous summer. My heart was in the right place, but those six plants sat on the front porch all summer and never made it into the ground. Ashamed at neglecting woodland phlox plants yet again, I put them on the deck, so I wouldn’t have to see them and feel guilty. Well, of course, the squirrels decided to hide walnuts in them. Even worse, a few times, I forgot to water them, so they dried up. I thought they were doomed, but then it rained, and tiny leaves started to grow out last fall.
This past winter had the most frost days of any in the last four years, and I gave them up for lost once again, deciding I would buy new plants sometime in the future when I would actually plant them.
It frequently rained this winter, the plants turned a dark red, and with spring, up popped all of these blossoms!!! Surprisingly, I have three different kinds. Now, I feel obligated to these plants. They have shown resilience and a will to exist that cannot be ignored. Seeing their refusal to give up, I went looking for their cousins neglected and mostly forgotten in the tree hollow for the last two years, and guess what, they are back too!
These phlox plants have given me a second chance to do right by them, so I will rise to the occasion. I have ageratum, sweet alyssum, and pincushions to go with them, and now they will have company around the base of the sweet gum tree. Aren’t second chances wonderful?!