Phlox, new book

Phlox, A Natural History and Gardener’s Guide (book review by Leonard Perry, Extension Professor)

James Locklear.  2011.  Timber Press.  316pp.

If you are interested in this genus as a whole, then this reference should be of interest to you.  Rather than focus on the more popular garden species and cultivars, instead it gives equal treatment to 61 species—many of which are more known to botanists than to gardeners, and some of which are rare even in the wild.  Most of the discussion of each is taxonomic and ecological, describing native habitats and plant associations, with brief mention too of cultivation for those appropriate.

The author has served in public horticulture in the Midwest, researched plants in peril, and introduced several Plains wildflowers.  In the relatively brief part I, he gives overviews of the botanical and horticultural history of this genus, and some keys.  The latter help sort out such species as to their native origin, or differences among 3 annual species for instance.  Most of the book in part II then treats the species alphabetically, with usually between 2 and 4 pages on each, although the popular garden phlox has 5 pages and the downy phlox and its subspecies has 9 pages.  There are a few color photos in the center of the book, primarily of species growing in native habitats. Not knowing many of the species, I would have enjoyed seeing a photo of each rather than just a botanical description.

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