There is no flower in the garden more beautiful, more easily cultivated, or giving so much bloom as the Phlox. I could certainly never have a garden without it.
In mine there must be a couple of thousand. I have a great mass, of probably two hundred herbaceous Phloxes, growing together in one corner of my garden, the very tall varieties over four feet high. About the fifteenth of July, every year, this corner is a superb sight. Most of these plants are over fifteen years old. They have been kept fine by heaviest top-dressing every year, and by lifting all the plants every three years and digging in quantities of manure, and also by separating each plant into three, by cutting the roots with a spade, or pulling apart with the fingers.
The newer varieties of Phlox come in the most beautiful colours, - dark crimson, fiery scarlet, many shades of pink, pink striped with white, and pink with a white eye; all shades of lilac, lilac with white and purple, the beautiful pure white, and the white with the scarlet eye. Of all the varieties, my favorites are the snowy white, and the salmon-pink with the dark red eye. Buy fifty large field-grown plants; at the end of three years separate them, and you have a hundred and fifty. They present a picture of progression much surer than the tale of the eggs that were to do so much.
Many of the individual blossoms of my Phloxes are larger than a fifty-cent piece; a number of them larger by measurement than a silver dollar, and the heads also are very large. Always erect, neat and smiling, never needing to be staked (such a task in a large garden), when once grown they must always be dear to a gardener's heart. By breaking off the heads of Phlox immediately after blooming, a second crop of flowers will appear in about three weeks. The heads will not be so large as the first, but they will amply repay the slight trouble.
Every owner of a garden has certain favorites; it really cannot be helped, although the knowledge that it is so makes it seem almost as unfair as for a mother to have a favorite child.
A real lover of flowers finds it difficult to cast away a plant that has bloomed its best, even though the blossom is unsatisfactory. In my garden there are, at present, some plants that I am longing to dig up and burn. There are two climbing Roses that came by mistake in a large order and were set out. They have thriven as no others, cover a very large space on a trellis, and in June bear thousands of a most hideous, small, purplish crimson Rose. The other plant is Scabiosia Caucasica. Beware of the same. The description of it in a catalogue caused me to feel that without it the garden was nothing. A dozen were ordered and set out in a border, in two clumps. They grew and waxed strong, and fairly clambered over everything within several feet of them, seeming to be like gigantic thistles. Finally in August, on stems two feet long, the eagerly looked-for blossoms appeared. These were described in the catalogue as "a large head of pale blue flowers." But, to my despair, it developed a round green ball about three inches in circumference, with white thistle-like petals. And yet the plants had surpassed themselves. It seems a poor reward to turn them out to die.