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Foxglove - the ‘IT’ Flower for summer 2015

by CountryLife Gardening | Jun 12, 2015

Foxglove - the 'IT' flower of summer 2015
On the back of a busy few weeks of garden festivals, both here and in the UK, a few plants have received a boost in popularity thanks to their starring roles at Bloom and Chelsea. One particular flower that had a very strong presence at both shows was Foxglove.

Foxgloves (digitalis spp.) have always come in and out of fashion but they are very much the ‘IT’ plant of 2015. Thanks to key roles in award winning show gardens, such as Jane McCorkells’ at Bloom, gardeners are clamouring to have them in their own gardens. While Jane used a brilliant off white flowering variety in her garden, there are countless different colours available which will work in any gardens.

At the moment there is a wide range of colours in the garden centre to choose from. ‘Pams choice’ is a white flowering variety which has be tinted with a subtle blush of pinkish purple. Those looking for a pure white foxglove will be attracted to ‘Snow Thimble’. For a splash of yellow ‘Primrose Carousel’ would do wonders brightening up a border. 

Foxglove: Digitalis Illumination PinkFor me however the star of the foxglove family is the
Digitalis Illumination Pink. I first discovered this more unusual foxglove while working on the Glanbia sponsored garden at Barretstown last year. As the name suggests this variety has a very vibrant colour and it stands out very well in a garden. The flower is similar to a traditional foxglove but has an extended lip which almost looks like a tongue sticking out from the flower (if you were to use your imagination!) The flower also has a dark purple stem which highlights the plants leaves where on other varieties they are often overlooked. 

When it comes to planting foxgloves they are generally lost in a flowerbed if planted individually. They have more impact when planted in groups of three or five as they form larger clumps and can be appreciated more. Foxgloves do best in natural planting schemes or woodland style settings. This means they work extremely well when planted with ferns and hostas. The dark dense foliage of ferns and hostas offers a great backdrop to flowers.   

If you are growing foxgloves from seed it is important to remember that they are biennials meaning they will grow in the first year and then flower in the second. So growing from seed, while it can save money it is an investment in time.

Foxgloves will self-seed themselves around a garden which can be seen as a bonus for some gardeners. It is important to remember however that even though you may have purple or pink foxgloves the seedlings which it produces may not be the same colour due to cross pollination. That in my eyes is half the fun waiting to see what colours pop up in the garden in the following years.

Did you know?
Gardening can promote a healthier lifestyle - but did you know that many modern medicines have their origins in the plant world? One of the best known examples of this is the compounds from English yew being used for the treatment of breast cancer. Aspirin, something that most of us use regularly is made from a substance found in the bark of Willow. Foxgloves themselves have been used in medicine since the 16th century, they have been used to treat heart disease and derivatives are still used in today’s modern medicine. 

Written by Malachy

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Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!