Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Thrift is Blooming

Thrift flowers

Years ago I planted my front bank in thrift. Over the years some of the plants have died, but I still have a pink mass with butterflies galore enjoying the feast each Spring.

Thrift comes in various colors. I especially like the hot pink that brightens my yard and the plants that have the palest delicate shade of lavender that I see in nearby yards.

A lot of folks in southern Appalachia have basements because when you build on steep ground you might as well build a basement because you have to build a foundation high enough to get the house out of the ground.

Houses with basements sometimes end up with banks surrounding the entrance door. Those banks are prime locations to spot thrift blooming in the spring. It’s a low growing plant and seems to like hugging steep ground.

My patch of thrift is indeed on the bank by our basement.

I liked to play in the area between the two banks that led to Pap and Granny’s basement door when I was a child. I suppose the sides made me feel protected and sort of like I was in a secret area of the yard.

Some folks call the low growing evergreen plant Phlox, Creeping Phlox, or even Mountain Thrift.


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  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    April 8, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    I too have never heard it called Thrift….here in Eastern Canada we call it Creeping Phlox and with our cold Spring days and not much sun as yet…it will be awhile before we get to enjoy these beautiful flowers. I love your posts Tipper….always of interest. Tx. for sharing! Stay Safe!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    So elegant. They are so bright and beautiful. I haven’t heard them call thrift before.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Hawkins Whittaker
    April 8, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    I have never heard this called Thrift. We call it Creeping Phlox. No matter what it is called, it is a beautiful reminder of Spring.
    I enjoy your posts. Thank you for sharing Appalachian Culture. I remember it well.

  • Reply
    Nancy schmidt
    April 8, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Mother was raised in Townsend Tennessee and she called them woodland phlox. Mine here in Kansas are soft lavender pink. They spread so nicely and are no trouble.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 8, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    The Thrift is beautiful, always a bright spot of spring. It blooms just in time to save us from the winter barrenness! It gives us hope of brighter days coming.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    LOL, I too thought you meant “Thrift” as being frugal or we were going to a Thrift Shop. We called it creeping Phlox and it grew beautifully in yards in SC PA but my son also has it growing down a bank at his house in NE MS. I have also seen it in graveyards too. I was out in my son’s yard enjoying all the gorgeous native azaleas, when a beautiful scent reached me. As I walked I saw a plant that the bloom looked the color of burgundy and the texture of bark. My Mother always called them Sweet Shrubs and they grow here in NE MS. Oh my goodness, I think they smell as good as or better than honeysuckle.

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    April 8, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Never heard it called Thrift. I love all forms of Phlox, but I no longer have a sunny bank to grow it on. I love the mountain areas, where there are often a multitude of beautiful flowers, many wild and some cultivated. Those growing around abandoned homeplaces, as Tipper mentioned before, are the most interesting, with a story just begging to be told.

  • Reply
    Jane D. O'Dell
    April 8, 2021 at 10:46 am

    My grandparents had lots of thrift and I always loved it. I have tried several times to get it to grow in my yard with no success. My neighbors have it and theirs is beautiful (light purple). I love spring blooms!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2021 at 10:26 am

    Yes we called them creeping phlox , and they are pretty

  • Reply
    margie G
    April 8, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Tipper, you’re always peaking my interests! I thought thrifty as in frugal so I tuned right in. What you call thrift is ground phlox here. I got some on my steep banks and it sure is pretty. The high royal purple phlox that smells so good was my favorite flower as a child. I felt like a queen playing in that stuff and picking and sniffing to my heart’s desire. Thrift is beautiful and I’m with you on this one!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Have you written about these flowers long ago? Did I call them graveyard flowers? I think I am losing my faculties. I slept all night last night and woke up at 8:45 this morning with all my clothes on except my shoes. My supper was still in the microwave. So I guess I didn’t eat anything all day yesterday.

    • Reply
      April 8, 2021 at 10:04 am

      Ed-I have written about them before and when I went back and looked you did indeed call them graveyard flowers 🙂 I had forgotten so I didn’t include it in the list of other names-thank you for reminding me!

    • Reply
      Margie G
      April 8, 2021 at 10:07 am

      Lord have mercy on you, Ed!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Mama called it phlox and it grew by the side of the garage. The color is so pretty. When I saw the title of this post, I thought you were promoting frugal living in your area.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    April 8, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Thrift is beautiful – so simple. I have fond memories of seeing it in front of many houses as I was growing up. Thank you, Tipper, for helping me remember such sweet memories!I truly believe we would be good friends & neighbors. My husband said just today that I am a girl raised in the city – but with a mountain heart!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 8, 2021 at 8:36 am

    I never heard it called thrift until I came to Georgia. Growing up, I always heard creeping phlox. I planted some here years ago and it went steadily downhill (not a pun). Finally I moved it to what I thought would be a better place. Well, it promptly died out completely. I tell myself sometimes I should just quit trying to landscape here. But I never do.

    Seems I am destined to dig and dig and dig. There is little of this yard that I have not dug myself or has been dug by folks I hired for major stuff. Anyway, enough of that. I’ve had some successes, enough to keep me going.

    Thrift looks its best I think when it is growing along the top of a sunny wall and hanging over. I can’t decide whether I like one color best, all mixed up or just two. They are all so pretty.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2021 at 8:21 am

    My grandaddy loved thrift and would plant it along the road bank in front of his home. Most of it has died but there are still some patches of it. He also liked to plant wild roses. I have some of the ones he set out at the end of my driveway.

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