Pretty as a picture



It’s easy to understand why Phlox is a favourite with gardeners around the world, explains Judith Sleijpen. 

Originally from the eastern regions of America, the name ‘Phlox’ comes from the Greek word for ‘flame’ referring to the plant’s captivating display.

Reaching a height of about 30 centimetres and spreading up to 45 centimetres wide, Phlox (Phlox hybrid ‘Minnie Pearl’) is a hardy, low-growing perennial with glossy, deep green foliage. From spring to early autumn, it’s covered in masses of clustered, crisp, white flowers. 

Phlox prefers to grow in a sunny or semi-shaded spot in organic-enriched, well-draining soil, and responds to being watered regularly during extended periods of heat. It makes a charming addition to perennial borders, rockeries and small garden areas and is attractive to butterflies.

Planted in premium-grade potting mix in a decorative container, Minnie Pearl brightens up balconies and courtyards, adding instant appeal. 

To maintain this little beauty, simply apply a slow-release fertiliser in spring and cut the plant back by half after each flower flush.  

Minnie Pearl blends well with other cottage perennials, such as Butterfly Bush (Gaura ‘Crimson Butterflies’) and Mexican Aster (Cosmos ‘Chocoholic’).

Top gardening tips for June

  • Brighten up your living room or balcony with a display of cyclamens, begonias or cymbidium orchids. These beautiful, long-lasting blooms provide months of colour and enjoyment.
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs, such as gladioli, hippeastrum and liliums.  Check the packet for the depth of planting as it varies from bulb to bulb.
  • Trim sasanqua camellias by up to one-third of the foliage, when they’ve finished flowering. Feed them with an organic fertiliser and apply a generous layer of mulch over their roots.
  • Plant bare-rooted roses and deciduous trees as soon as possible after buying them. Condition the soil with organic matter and make sure the roots are kept moist before planting.
  • Treat the lawn with a broadleaf weed killer to control infestations of bindii before they flower and form those irritating seed heads. 
  • Build a wire bin to hold any excess autumn leaves. These can be composted separately by adding three to four handfuls of Dynamic Lifter or Blood and Bone to each wheelbarrow load. Keep the leaves moist and turn the contents of the bin regularly to allow air to penetrate.
  • Prune native shrubs to maintain an attractive shape and get rid of any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Fertilise with a sprinkling of Blood and Bone, and always water well before and after applying fertiliser.
  • Plant rhubarb crowns into soil that’s been enriched with compost and aged cow manure.  With its attractive broad leaves and red stems, rhubarb is a great-looking addition to any kitchen garden. 

What’s on?

Become a Bushcare volunteer: There are many areas of natural beauty on the Northern Beaches. Council partners with local residents to preserve and maintain this natural bushland. Volunteers need no experience and there are activities to suit all levels of fitness. Tools and guidance as well as morning and afternoon tea are provided. For more information contact the Bushcare team on 9942 2766 or via email

Judith Sleijpen is an experienced horticulturist, columnist and garden designer advising clients on all aspects of their balconies and gardens. For more information phone 9907 6460. 

Judith Sleijpen, Contributor, Peninsula Living Magazine

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