Posts Tagged ‘foxglove’

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!

King of the foxgloves

March 16th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Digitalis 'Summer King'
Back in 1924, D. H. Buxton of the John Innes Horticultural Institution, then in Merton in south west London, created a hybrid between our native foxglove and Digitalis grandiflora, a yellow flowered species from Eastern Europe. This was news because the two species had always been thought to be incompatible.

In fact he raised fifty seedlings, all from seed set on our native plant with pollen from the yellow-flowered one. He then pollinated one of the seedlings with its own pollen and raised ninety six plants which were identical to the parent and which themselves produced lots of seed.

So out of two plants thought never to produce seed when crossed together he’d produced a new fertile form that could easily be raised from seed. This plant was called Digitalis x mertonensis.

A number of varieties have been developed over the years and ‘Summer King’ is one of the best. In a trial run by the RHS at its garden at Wisley a few years ago ‘Summer King’ was described as “Multi-stemmed and very good flowering. Flowers held well on spike. Self-cleans beautifully.”

It’s a little like a more compact, more showy form of our native foxglove with spikes crowded with flowers the colour of strawberry ice cream on the outside and raspberries on the inside.

If you like foxgloves, give ‘Summer King’ a try. If you don’t, this one will probably convert you.