by Guest Ranter Barbara Pintozzi of Mr. McGregor's Daughter
All I wanted was a ruby or crimson
colored, mildew-resistant Phlox to match my 'Black Beauty' Lilies and Lobelia
'Sparkle DeVine' to and harmonize with Lobelia 'Monet Moment.' Now, I know that
the natural color of Phlox paniculata is magenta, but there seemed to be a lot
of Phloxes described as "red" on the market. I looked at photos of Phloxes on
the internet, but it truly is impossible to determine a color without seeing it
in person. How hard could it be to find the right one? Three months and four
Phloxes later, I still don't have The One.
Back in May, I visited a large
nursery in Wisconsin, which had a vast selection of Phloxes. As the usual bloom
season for Phlox paniculata around here is summer, none were in bloom, so I took
a leap of faith and purchased two "red" Phloxes, 'Starfire' and 'Red Magic.'
Patiently, I waited for buds to form, then blooms to finally open, only to
discover that neither one was "red." Both were dark magenta instead. So I
started cruising the local nurseries, where I found a Phlox that was actually
"red," 'Red Riding Hood.' On bringing it home, I discovered that it is the
wrong red, too bright and slightly orange to match the Lilies.
Recently, I had a free day, so I
took a drive to my favorite suburban nursery to purchase Phlox 'Grenadine
Dream.' I had such a good feeling that this would be the perfect color. Of
course, it was sold out and there weren't any in the display beds.
Finally, last week at Midwest
Groundcovers, I asked whether they grew any "ruby" colored Phloxes. The closest,
I was told, was 'Volcano Red.' It sounded promising, so I went to the plant in
the display bed and clipped off a bloom, brought it home, and discovered that it
was, unsurprisingly, red-violet, not ruby, not crimson, not red.
Has anyone seen a crimson or ruby
colored Phlox? Is there such a thing? Is "red" in the eye of the beholder?
Maybe I should just plant some Phlox 'David' there instead, or should I wait
for Terra Nova to come up with one?