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Featured Conservation Plants: August 2013

August 2013:
Phlox paniculata ‘Grey Lady’

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This lovely Phlox has been in the HPS Conservation Scheme for 10 years and it is a great pity is not more widely known and grown. It was introduced by one of our Hampshire Conservation scheme coordinators, Jennifer Harmer who is a Phlox expert and she obtained it from one of the previous owners of the Hampshire-based Applecourt Nurseries, Diana Grenfell.

Until recently ‘Grey Lady’ did not appear in the RHS Planfinder at all and in the 2013 version there is only one supplier listed.

In the south of England it has been flowering since the beginning of July and is still looking good, going on until August.

Like all Phlox paniculata, ‘Grey Lady’ performs best in moisture-retentive soil where it will reach up to a metre in height. It spreads at a moderate rate to form a robust clump and will perform well in full sun or partial shade. The flowers are of good circular form in lilac with a white ‘eye’ and have a delicate scent.

‘Grey Lady’ is hardy throughout the UK and is grown by all of the groups in the Conservation Scheme.

Phlox are prone to several pests and are particularly vulnerable in spring when there newly emerging growth needs protection from hungry slugs and snails. Eelworm infestation distorts the leaves and stems and it is probably better to take uninfected soft-tip cuttings from clean plant material and start again, discarding the infected clump. A few growers in the scheme have reported their ‘Grey Lady’ having mildew – an unfortunate problem with some Phlox – but I have been growing the plant in my borders for 3 years and it hasn’t suffered to date.

Propagation may be achieved by several methods – division, basal cuttings, soft tip or semi-ripe cuttings, basal cuttings or root cuttings.

‘Grey Lady’ is not grey at all but a graceful, delicate addition to any herbaceous, perennial border and is well worth growing.

The Conservation scheme involves HPS members in growing these plants and documenting the best way to grow and propagate them. The plants are distributed across the country with many local groups and individual growers being involved.

The scheme is open to all HPS members. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Since the present scheme started in 1998, we have been successful in conserving over 30 plant varieties that are, in our opinion, all worthy of being grown in British gardens. However, there are still a large number of potentially garden worthy plants in need of conservation.

If you are a interested in making this (or any other of our conservation plants) available on a commercial basis, please contact the National Coordinator.

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