Sandringham Show and Foxgloves
One of the highlights in my calendar is the Sandringham Show and after visiting on 27th July this year, I came away with some beautiful pots of foxgloves. Some might say that it is a bit late for foxgloves, but I think that there is still plenty of time to enjoy their wonderful summer flowers. I bought three pinks for a woodland area in my garden.
When I was thinking about writing foxgloves I looked up the translation of their botanical name ‘digitalis’. The name comes from the Latin ‘digitatus’ which means finger. Now I’ve had a think, this is a great name – the bellflowers really do look like fingers when you look at them.
Foxgloves do self-seed really quite well, but as biennials, I do feel the need to top up the areas that I have planted them in the past. Some years, the display does feel a little patchy and other years I can hardly move for foxgloves! Unfortunately this year has been a patchy one, although maybe if it had been a bumper year I wouldn’t have bought any at the show!
If you look at the label that comes with the plant it usually says partial sun to full shade. I have found that those planted in the part shade out-grow and out-flower those in full shade by at least 50% I don’t know if this is peculiar to my garden or if this is found generally.
I know of some amateur growers who like to stake the plants when they get over 1-2ft, but I like to just leave them to get on with their own growing pattern. The only exception is during particularly bad years when I am desperate to have some of their beautiful stems growing in my garden.
I have tried growing from seed, but I have to admit that I am just not patient enough! Days spent wandering around shows and garden centres usually result in the purchase of plants that yes, I could grow from seed, I just choose not to. I really only grow veg and herbs from seed.
A few of my favourites (or … ones that grow well in my garden!)
Digitalis grandiflora, the large yellow foxglove
This foxglove forms a nice clump and after a few years, the stem is probably just under a metre. I love the dark foliage and that it is evergreen. Even through the flowers are not there, the promise of new growth is! The individual flowers are a good 2inches long and a delicious clotted cream, creamy-yellow colour.
Digitalis obscura, the sunset foxglove
The obscura quite often makes an early appearance in my garden which always gives an exciting feeling that warmer weather and the summer is just around the corner. The leaves are a grey to green colour and (strangely) hairless. The flowers are probably not to everyone’s taste, but I love their rusty colours.
I would probably avoid the foxglove if you have young children because of the poison potential, but otherwise I’d really encourage you to plant one (or more!) as they really are stunning additions to a garden.