After a morning's hard graft at the allotment today, Threadspider and I rewarded ourselves with a delicious afternoon at The Botanic Nursery. We've been there before for some of Terry's monthly workshops, but this time it was for Foxglove Week. The nursery holds the only National Collection of foxgloves, so this was an opportunity not to be missed as it's pretty much on our doorstep.
The nursery looks so different to my last visit a month ago. Lots of lush, choice plants in flower and quite a few people around ready to buy them. The collection itself is found in a serried row bordered by a yew hedge and my first surprise was the perennial species far outstrip the more widely known biennial ones. There are 22 species and Terry has 20 of them, plus 10 forms of our native Digitalis purpurea, making a grand total of 21 species. We saw that a number of the plants have escaped from the confines of their national collection border into other areas of the nursery - just like foxgloves are meant to do ;)
Unfortunately May's cool weather meant that many of the perennial species were yet to flower, including the sport D. 'Glory of Roundway' originally found in a garden less than 10 miles from the nursery. However, there was still plenty to keep us interested and Terry's enthusiasm was much in evidence as usual. I was surprised to learn the seed remains viable for 100 years, so who knows when the next foxgloves may pop up in my garden, even though I've not had any for a couple of years?
Naturally, we couldn't leave without taking a few plants home with us - for Threadspider a lovely Digitalis ferruginea plus a variegated Iris that just had to be bought for her pond. I resisted all the foxgloves as I want to replan my borders first, but caved in and bought the Heuchera 'Lime Rickey' I'd admired so much a couple of months ago that also was one of the 'plants of the show' at RHS Cardiff in April. I must apologise to Karen - we couldn't get you any seeds, Terry only does plants. Hopefully the following foxy feast will give you some ideas for your new wall though.
A closer look at D. 'Excelsior Hybrids'
Digitalis x mertonensis - a perennial form raised in the 1920sDigitalis parviflora - a perennial from the mountains of Northern Spain discovered in 1770. A striking flower spike with a lovely silvery edging to the leaves. I'll be returning for this little beauty
Digitalis lanata - a perennial from the Balkan peninsula discovered around 1753 and is the plant from which the heart drug Digoxin is obtained. A classic example of a scientist observing the local medicine women and then isolating the foxglove as the active ingredient in the herbal drink they were making to treat Dropsy
D. 'Apricot Shades' - a lovely biennial form