Posted: 18/08/2016 at 23:22
Ripply, you are over thinking this.
yes phlox like all herbaceous perenials do "die away" in winter. However, some "twiggyness" remains . These twigs will be replaced by new shoots in early spring...you can simply snap the old foliage off then
you are right, there is nothing to see there in that spot in winter but you can mitigate this bareness. Bulbs like daffodils, lilies ,snowdrops etc can be planted alongside....not too close because perennials will get bigger every year. Planting evergreen perennials like lupins or biennials like wallflowers nearby will provide greenery and flowers in the winter.
the trick is to learn about different plants....when and how they grow and flower etc. Hellebores will flower in late winter for example. After several years I have learned enough to grow plants so that bare spots are not displayed too much. Getting to know plants is the way to go
mulching herbaceous plamts will help avoid weeds encroaching but remember weeds do not grow much in the winter anyway. Weeds will not have much of a foothold where perennials are planted
sorry if this sounds patronising ...I don't mean to be. the main thing is to enjoy growing things you REALLY like and aim for something to flower or provide interest throughout the year.
Meanwhile, RELAX. Enjoy the journey