Black Country Bugle



- ALAN TITCHMARSH Gardening Expert

OF ALL the mid-summer border plants available, I think phlox is among the best value. It is the varieties of Phlox paniculata that are the stalwarts of the summer border, needing only ordinary, well-drained soil and a spot in the sun or gently dappled shade to bring out their brilliance.

So good are they for cutting and bringing indoors, that I have planted a row of them on the vegetable patch for that very purpose. I regularly snip them – twofoot long stems, topped by a loose, rounded, bunch of flowers.

You can have your border phlox in lots of different colours, from the pure white of ‘Fujiyama’ or ‘Mia Ruys’, to the rich pink of ‘Balmoral’ and ‘Eva Cullum’, the magenta pink of ‘Laura’ and the purple of ‘Hampton Court.’ Or choose others that are pale with a darker eye, like the white and pink ‘Graf Zeppelin’. You can extend the season of flowering of establishe­d clumps by giving them a chop at the end of May. Cut back half the stems to within 4in or 5in of the ground.

This delays flowering in that section and the result is a succession­al show of flowers from July right through to September.

Chop the back half of the clump away, rather than the front, so your butchery does not offend the eye earlier in the season.

Good, sturdy varieties have the advantage of not needing staking, but be generous to them at planting time and work in some organic enrichment.

Older, weaker varieties were martyrs to mildew and eelworm, but well-grown modern types should not give you any bother.

Check the height of each variety before you plant – they vary from 2ft to 5ft and need to be positioned accordingl­y.

They’ll keep going for years without needing to be divided and only when they start to travel too far will you need to dig them up and replant the healthiest portions.

Plant now for instant delight and future pleasure.


 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Variegated Phlox paniculata ‘Nora Leigh’
Variegated Phlox paniculata ‘Nora Leigh’
 ?? ?? ‘Laura’ brings a powerful punch to your borders
‘Laura’ brings a powerful punch to your borders
 ?? ?? ‘Eva Cullum’
‘Eva Cullum’
 ?? ?? ‘Mia Ruys’
‘Mia Ruys’

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