RINGING IN THE BELLS
The genus Digitalis, commonly known as Foxgloves, are native to Europe, Central Asia and the Mediterranean regions. The botanical name derives from the Latin word, digitus, (finger), which describes the long, tubular, bell-shaped flowers which resemble the fingers of a glove. The long, stout stems carry abundant heads of massed blossoms, and colours range from white and soft cream to multiple shades of pink and purple. Many varieties have lovely deep purple or maroon mottling in each flower's throat. The original species has been extensively hybridized, and strikingly beautiful Foxglove cultivars are readily available for the spring and early-summer garden. They work very well mixed with other bedding plants like Delphiniums.
Prepare your beds thoroughly, as foxgloves will mature to their superb best in rich, well-composted soil. Plant your seedlings in the autumn, ensuring they are placed in semi-shaded positions in the garden. Foxgloves do not like too much direct sun and will flag and discolour prematurely in excessive heat. Regular watering is essential, particularly in very hot weather and dry spells. If you are growing tall varieties, it is advisable to plant them in areas protected from the wind, as strong gusts can blow the plants over when the heads are heavy with blossom. If you live in a breezy coastal area, you may consider staking the stems to ensure they stay upright. As foxgloves are available in tall and dwarf varieties, they offer many options for use in sweeping herbaceous borders and elegant flower beds.
Information Supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. Contact Bronwen Tuck, chairperson 083 678 5907.