Posts Tagged ‘digitalis’

Fabulous foxgloves

August 2nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Digitalis 'Suttons Apricot'

I got some flack on social media last week, for my post about sowing seed to grow decorations for Christmas. Well, I apologise for any offence caused by mentioning Christmas in July! But, well, this is the time for sowing the seed. And this is also the time for sowing other seeds and, in particular, foxgloves.

In fact, it’s often suggested that we sow foxgloves in June or July but a couple of people said to me last autumn that the plants from outdoor June and July sowings grew so large by planting out time in the autumn that they didn’t establish very well.

I was surprised by this, as their fibrous roots usually hold the soil on well, but this year I’m trying sowing a little later. It will be interesting to see how big the plants are by transplanting time and how well they flower next year.

I’m going to try an old favourite this year, ‘Sutton’s Apricot’. To be honest, I sometimes doubt if “apricot” is the right word, but the one-sided spikes of flowers carry the usual foxglove flowers, hanging down slightly, in pale rose pink – perhaps with a yellowish flush – and dainty spotting in the throat.

That subtle shade – and the plants may vary very slightly in colour – are ideal at the back of the border behind English roses in pinks and creams or rich red. So why not try sowing ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ foxgloves this month?

Apricot foxgloves

July 20th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Digitalis 'Sutton's Apricot'

There’s no doubt that one of the loveliest of all foxgloves is ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ – and now’s the time to sow the seed. “But what’s so special about it?” I hear you ask? “There’s so many different foxgloves out there, with more coming out almost every year, why this one?”

Well, it’s the colour. It’s that simple. The mature flowers are a delightful soft pale rosy pink with a hint of yellow but they open from buds that are more determinedly apricot in colour. And, like all the best foxgloves, the plants have the gentle elegance and the arching shoot tips that come from the flowers being held on one side of the stem, not all the way round. And they’re a proper foxglove height, too, not short and squat.

So, seed sowing. You’ll find plenty of seed in the packet so you can sow outside in a row now. Anywhere that’s not too hot and dry (!) will be fine. It pays, after you’ve made a drill with the point of a stick, to fill the drill with water and let it sink in. Then sow thinly. Then cover gently.

Thin the seedlings out to 2-3cm, then 5cm and then 10cm apart and then, in the autumn, transplant them to where you’d like them to flower

So why is it that I feel so comfortable discussing a variety developed by and named for a rival seed company? It’s because if you buy ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ foxgloves from Mr F you’ll get five times as many seeds for 50p less per packet than if you buy it from our friends in Devon!

Foxgloves in the Chapel and at Chelsea

May 21st, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Foxgloves at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show in the exhibit staged by The Botanic Nursery.

Foxgloves were an integral feature of the floral displays in St George’s Chapel on Saturday and they make quite an impact here at Chelsea where two entirely different exhibits featuring foxgloves stand out.

For many years we’ve enjoyed the displays staged by Terry Baker of The Botanic Nursery in Wiltshire, holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of Digitalis (foxgloves). This year (above) Terry has combined traditional varieties and old favourites with recent introductions alongside some varieties that are only just coming on to the market. Intermingling them with the slender spires of the related verbascums works very well.

Then, in a dramatic contrast, on the Skin Deep garden (below) designed by Robert Parker, full flowered white foxgloves are set amongst large square silvered cement blocks. The overall effect is both rather stark and at the same time, positive and uplifting.

But not all foxgloves are good, I’m sorry to say. Without pointing the finger at specific exhibitors, I also came across some of the ugliest foxgloves I’ve ever seen! The unnaturally large and broad mouthed flowers glared up towards me and in an especially sickly purple, their throats spotted not with delicate speckles but with large, almost warty blotches. It takes hard work to make a foxglove ugly but someone has achieved exactly that.

But don’t let these horrors put you off. Give me the supremely elegant, white foxgloves used in St George’s Chapel and especially the pure white and angelically spotted form of our wild native foxglove, the flowers artfully poised on one side of the gently arching spike as nature intended.

Seeds sown in the next few weeks will make fine plants to go out in the garden in autumn to flower this time next year.

Pure white foxgloves set against silvered concrete blocks on the Skin Deep garden disgned by Robert Parker.