Few garden plants stir the level of conflicted feelings for me than the tall garden phlox. When we moved into our home 24 years ago, it was hard to tell what had been the most neglected – the house or the yard. We did find a few garden plants hidden beneath an out of control forsythia including a few tall pink garden phlox. It’s progeny are now growing in several of my perennial beds and in a “wild garden bed” full of over achievers/cast-offs I planted down the street many years ago before I developed the stomach for pulling and composting (putting to death) plants that needed to be thinned.
I admire the range of pinks from rich dark fuchsia to soft light pink with darker eyes that have resulted from many years of cross-pollination and the sea of late season color they provide. However, their characteristics of hardiness, drought-tolerance and ability to seed themselves in all manner of soil make them both a boon and a borderline pest. Depending on how much they have poked their elbows out and begun to choke out their neighbors and how much time I have spent taming them back by chopping roots and digging them out I sometimes consider digging out the whole lot and leaving them at the end of the driveway with a sign that reads, “free”. But then I think about how much I enjoy their blooms and my too busy schedule means I’d be hard-pressed to actually find the time to dig them all out and so we go on with the annual love-hate, pleasure-pain dance. Anyone want some tall garden phlox? (Free to a good, loving home.)