A more familiar sight in New Orleans and Alabama, the Southern Magnolia is a wonderful evergreen tree with broad shiny leaves and huge (up to 30″ in diameter) white fragrant flowers. It is the latest bloomer of all the magnolias in the midwest, it blooms at the end of May, beginning of June, when other trees are long done flowering. The flowers develop into an artichoke shaped fruit, filled with beautiful flaming red seeds that look like corn kernels.
The tree, once established, is unpretentious and resilient, and it successfully withstands negative Fahrenheit temperatures with minimal damage. It changes its leathery leaves all year long, but goes through a major shedding in spring.
Speaking of attractive garden features for the cold season, this tree looks like this picture, minus the flower, in the dead of winter.
Garden Phlox is a perennial staple for the northern gardens. A resilient, care-free, sun loving plant, it is adorned with bunches of flowers ranging in color from white to bright magenta. Most of the varieties are wonderfully scented. The white variety “David” is exquisitely fragrant. It blooms all summer and the blooms last a long time. Phlox can be propagated by seed, cuttings, and clump division. From my experience, it is quite a prolific self-seeder, so make sure to deadhead the ripened flowers if you don’t want it spreading.
The Garden Phlox is an unpretentious flower, but don’t underestimate it. It is quite spectacular in mass plantings, it fills your garden with its fragrance, and butterflies love it. Don’t plant it in crowded places because it is susceptible to mildew and it needs lots of air movement around its canes to stay healthy. It grows tall and broad, so it is not a candidate for the front row.
Stock is a great flower for the front of the bed, since it has a low growing habit and is delightfully fragrant. The flowers are double and they cover all shades of pink and purple. It germinates reliably and true to variety. These flowers were started from last year’s crop seeds.
Stock is an old fashioned favorite of the cottage garden. They are wonderful in flower arrangements.