Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’ (woodland phlox) is covered in showy blooms in spring. The wonderful flowers are a bluish lavender colour, and make a focal point when they are in bloom. This plant does well in part shade or medium shade, but won’t bloom in deep shade. If you have a smaller monitor, you’ll have to click the top picture to see the whole photo.
I used it have the woodland phlox for a couple of years in deeper shade, where it had to compete hard with a willow. The plant survived at the same size, but never bloomed. Then I moved it to this medium shade area, where it gets about 2 hours of sunlight, or so, and it is very happy. The Phlox puts on a great floral display, and is about four times the size now.
Depending on the angle of the sun, the ‘Clouds of Perfume’ blooms can appear more bluish or more lavender, but they always look marvelous. Their name is more of a metaphor for beauty, than a description of their scent, since I never detect much of a fragrance.
I love the way the Phlox divaricata looks in front of this Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern). The lacy fronds make a great backdrop for the flowers, while their narrow vase shape gives lots of room at the bottom for the phlox. The plants spread out nicely over time, but not in an annoying way. It’s very easy to pull it back if you want to, and not insistent about returning. I’m happy to have the woodland phlox fill out the space here. The groundcover is gradually moving towards the edge of the Hydrangea shrub, and makes a good underplanting for it, since the Hydrangea is slow to leaf out in spring.
We had a number of frosts in May, and many of the leaves of this perennial turned a tan colour, I thought that it might die back, or lose its buds and not bloom, but it recovered just fine. There are so many new green leaves, that I can’t even see the damaged ones, and the plant is full of these beautiful blooms. This plant handles zone 3 and a cold spring very well.
Woodland phlox blooms for about three weeks in late spring, and as they fade, I always wish that the flowers would continue to enliven the garden. After the blooms are finished, I cut them and the flower stalks back. The foliage afterwards is short, around 15 cm (6 in), and although it has a nice green colour, it fades into the background. I planted some Heuchera in front of it last fall, to add interest for the rest of the season. I think this should work well, as the Heuchera has much showier leaves. I’m delighted by the splash Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’ makes when in bloom, so it’s definitely worth adding to the garden, but you might want something in front for the rest of the season.