The return of a garden
Summer phlox was once a stalwart plant in my garden...nothing phased it. It grew in semi-shade, in deep shade and full sun. It always bloomed and spread its progeny delightfully everywhere; making a very large flowering presence during July and August. Butterflies flocked to him...especially swallowtails, Painted Lady, fritillary, skipper and sulphur butterflies during the day and Hummingbird, Sphinx and and Hawkmoths at night. They didn't mind that the phlox was just a plain old unnamed species phlox...a rather pinkish/purple colored flower. Neither did I. It was the quintessential Clay and Limestone summer plant.
But several years ago it was decimated by phlox bug. The bug eradication program meant a thorough removal of all phlox debris each fall...stalks and stems went into the trash. It's esential to do this one step each fall. Then in the spring I began the daily monitoring for signs of the orange bug.
Early this spring it looked clear. No sign of the bug and no plant damage...I was so excited and said such on a post. But somehow, I missed the larva stage and in a matter of a few weeks they were back. Even with spraying and smooshing the little pest, it seemed pretty certain that there wouldn't be any bloom this year. I accepted that and planted more coneflower and monarda.
Both bee and butterfly food sources.
But flowers have a way of surprising gardeners
Early Saturday morning I went down the driveway to have another look at the Monarda "Marshall's Delight". Hovering around the coneflower and liatris was a gorgeous Black Swallowtail Butterfly.
What a delight to see this butterfly. I followed it flitting to and fro, stopping at this coneflower and that Verbena while slowly moving toward the front shade gardens. Then he stopped and landed on a summer phlox...all decked out in bloom! It was the oddest feeling and while looking at the Swallowtail, I heard myself say... "Well, there you are, right where you're supposed to be." The Swallowtails were home and so was the phlox.
I wish I had a photo of the Swallowtail on the phlox, but I didn't have a camera with me....sigh! But here is a photo from Wikipedia of a Black Swallowtail.
In case you're wondering how I missed the buds? It's not that I didn't see the buds, but with all the damage on the leaves it seemed impossible that they would have any energy to bloom! (photos enlarge).
More phlox...you can see the damage on the leaves! But who cares, when you have this delightful pretty in pink flower!
This is the flower you get after letting a plant go to seed year after year. I inherited these lovelies from the former owner. Maybe they were named varieties at one time, but by the time we arrived... who knows. I let some reseed every year.
There had always been summer phlox at Clay and Limestone and now it seems it will be here again.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.