(Phlox divaricata) Phlox family Flowers - Pale lilac blue, slightly fragrant, borne on sticky pedicels, in loose, spreading clusters. Calyx with 5 long, sharp teeth. Corolla of 5 flat lobes, indented like the top of a heart, and united into a slender tube;

5 unequal, straight, short stamens in corolla tube; 1 pistil with 3 stigmas. Stem: to 2 ft. high, finely coated with sticky hairs above, erect or spreading, and producing leafy shoots from base. Leaves: Of flowering stem - opposite, oblong, tapering to a point; of sterile shoots - oblong or egg-shaped, not pointed, 1 to 2 in. long. Preferred habitat - Moist, rocky woods. Flowering Season - April-June. Distribution - Eastern Canada to Florida, Minnesota to Arkansas. The merest novice can have no difficulty in naming the flower whose wild and cultivated relations abound throughout North America, the almost exclusive home of the genus, although it is to European horticulturists, as usual the first to see the possibilities in our native flowers, that we owe the gay hybrids in our gardens. Mr. Drummond, a collector from the Botanical Society of Glasgow, early in the thirties sent home the seeds of a species from Texas, which became the ancestor of the gorgeous annuals, the Drummond phloxes of commerce today; and although he died of fever in Cuba before the plants became generally known, not even his kinsman, the author of "Natural Law in the Spiritual World," has done more to immortalize the family name. While the wild blue phlox is sometimes cultivated, it is the GARDEN PHLOX (P. paniculata), common in woods and thickets from Pennsylvania to Illinois and southward, that under a gardener's care bears the large terminal clusters of purple, magenta, crimson, pink, and white flowers abundant in old-fashioned, hardy borders. From these it has escaped so freely in many sections of the North and East as to be counted among the local wildflowers. Unless the young offshoots are separated from the parent and given a nook of their own, the flower quickly reverts to the original type. European cultivators claim that the most brilliant colors are obtained by crossing annual with perennial phloxes. WILD SWEET WILLIAM (P. maculata), another perennial much sought by cultivators, loves the moisture of low woods and the neighborhood of streams in the Middle and Western States when it is free to choose its habitat; but it, too, has so freely escaped from gardens farther north into dry and dusty roadsides, that anyone who has passed the ruins of Hawthorne's little red cottage at Lenox, for example, and seen the way his wife's clump of white phlox under his study window has spread to cover an acre of hillside, would suppose it to be luxuriating in its favorite locality. This variety of the species (var. Candida) lacks the purplish flecks on stem and lower leaves responsible for the specific name of the type. Pinkish purple or pink blossoms are borne in a rather narrow, elongated panicle on the typical Sweet William. Most members of the phlox family resort to the trick of coating the upper stem and the peduncles immediately below the flowers with a sticky secretion in which crawling insects, intent on pilfering sweets, meet their death, just as birds are caught on limed twigs. Butterflies, for whom phloxes have narrowed their tubes to the exclusion of most other insects, are their benefactors; but long-tongued bees and flies often seek their nectar. Indeed, the number of strictly butterfly-flowers is surprisingly small. VIRGINIA COWSLIP; TREE or SMOOTH LUNGWORT; BLUE-BELLS (Mertensia Virginica) Borage family Flowers - Pinkish in bud, afterward purplish blue, fading to light blue; about 1 in. long, tubular, funnel form, the tube of corolla not crested; spreading or hanging on slender pedicels in showy, loose clusters at end of smooth stem from 1 to 2 ft. high; stamens 5, inserted on corolla; 1 pistil; ovary of 4 divisions. Leaves: Large, entire, alternate, veiny, oblong or obovate, the upper ones seated on stem; lower very large ones diminishing toward base into long petioles; at first rich, dark purple, afterward pale bluish gray. Fruit: 4 seed-like little nuts, leathery, wrinkled when mature. Preferred Habitat - Alluvial ground, low meadows, and along streams. Flowering Season - March-May. Distribution - Southern Canada to South Carolina and Kansas, west to Nebraska; most abundant in middle West. Not to be outdone by its cousins the heliotrope and the forget-me-not, this lovely and far more showy spring flower has found its way into the rockwork and sheltered, moist nooks of many gardens, especially in England, where Mr. W. Robinson, who has appealed for its wider cultivation in that perennially charming book, "The English Flower Garden," says of the Mertensias: "There is something about them more beautiful in form of foliage and stem, and in the graceful way in which they rise to panicles of blue, than in almost any other family.... Handsomest of all is the Virginia cowslip." And yet Robinson never saw the alluvial meadows in the Ohio Valley blued with lovely masses of the plant in April. A great variety of insects visit this blossom, which, being tubular, conducts them straight to the ample feast; but not until they have deposited some pollen brought from another flower on the stigma in their way. The anthers are too widely separated from the stigma to make self-fertilization likely. Occasionally one finds the cowslips perforated by clever bumblebees. As only the females, which are able to sip far deeper cups, are flying when they bloom, they must be either too mischievous or too lazy to drain them in the legitimate manner. Butterflies have only to stand on a flower, not to enter it, in order to sip nectar from the four glands that secrete it abundantly.


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