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A few years ago my elderly next door neighbour had a garden that went wild and overgrown. Many native wild plants and flowers began to appear in her garden including a stunning foxglove which towered above the tangle of grasses and weeds, looking majestic and bright. This foxglove returned year after year and looked so good that I got jealous and went and bought a foxglove plant from my garden centre. Mine lasted a season and then died off and did not regrow next season. However, I vowed to try again and I now understand how to manage these beautiful flowers and have several patches of them in my garden borders.
Foxglove or Digitalis are native to Europe although the likelihood of seeing many of these growing wild nowadays has diminished due to over development and poor management of natural areas. I most often see them growing in English 'country gardens'. The flower is very recognisable as it has a tall, sturdy stem covered in large bell-like flowers. The base of the plant has thick, dark green leaves with smaller leaves appearing on the central stalks of the plant. My Foxgloves tend to grow several tall spikes of varying heights although with one spike usually taller and more robust than the others.
The colour of the flowers on a Foxglove can vary and mine grow both pink and white. The flower heads are stunning as they are so big with a dappled inner tube which bees enjoy climbing into in order to collect the sweet nectar. The flowers are very attractive to bees, in fact, which is one of the reasons I love them so much. The flowers dominate any border display as they are so grand and tall. They are perhaps grown at the back of a border due to their height.
As mentioned I did have problems growing the Foxglove at my first attempt. My tips would be to make sure the plants have as much shelter from high winds as possible. The long stalks can be vulnerable to strong winds and snap easily. Also, when the plant dies back at winter be sure to leave the base of leaves and roots untouched. The flower heads will seed so you can either scatter the seed in the same area or collect some seed to try and plant for next season. I find that my flowers tend to grow from the exact same spot as long as I don't dig around the base of the plant. The seeds of the flower are tiny little specks and I find it difficult to grow new plants from them.
I would definitely recommend the Foxglove to anyone who is looking for a beautiful, native flower to plant in their garden. These are one of my favourite flowers in my garden and they completely transform the look of the area. I also would recommend them to any wildlife gardeners.
The foxglove looks lovely and the flowers are very nice to look at, but behind the elegant looking herb lay a real danger. Foxgloves are poisonous and should never be eaten or used domestically, even touching foxgloves can cause rashes and headaches.
Do not use without medical direction.
Its classed as an herb because of it medicinal use, its been used for over 200 years as a treatment for heart failure.
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Foxgloves goes by many names that include, Deadmans Bells, Dogs fingers, Fairy fingers, Witchs glove and Bloody fingers to name but a few.
A review about a herb we cant eat, whats the point of that? Well its not unusual to be honest; there are other herbs out there we dont use for eating but only for medicinal purposes. I have only recently found out about Foxgloves being an herb, I have been growing them for quite a while in the garden for the insects and butterflies.
I have to admit I touch these with my finger I have even smelled the flowers, but as mentioned above you should handle the plant using gloves.
Foxglove grows in Europe and in North America and is a common wild flower in many parts of the world. The Anglo-Saxon named is Foxglue or Foxmusic after the trumpet like flowers, also in old English folklore, the plant is also known as a plant for Fairys and Goblins hence its name Fairy fingers & Fairy cap.
In 1542 Fuchs called it Digitalis after the finger like shape of it flowers, but he also classed it as a violent medicine, but it took over 200 years for William Withering a Physician, Botanist and Mineralogist to come along and make a Foxglove tea for a cure of Dropsy (swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water) this is where foxglove got its reputation as a medicinal herb.
Foxglove is mass produced in South-East Europe for its heart drug digitalis and is used in other medicinal drugs.
There is the Yellow, White and Wild (common) foxglove and many other attractive species.
Hardy evergreen perennial that can grow to a height of 30 inches and can spread 12 inches across. All depending on the species and colour, the flowers are a downward pointing; trumpet like flower which flowers in the summer. Leaves are strongly veined and a mid to dark green. The Wild (common) foxglove can grow to 5 ft in height and spread 2 foot.
The foxglove seeds are very small and fine. You can sow in either spring or autumn direct outside just on the surface and covers with cardboard, as soon as the seedlings appear take the cardboard of.
You can and I think its the easiest sow into little pots or seed trays, dont cover with anything just scatter on the surface and cover with either a plastic bag or a piece of glass, this makes the seedling have there own little eco system. As soon as the seedlings appear take the glass/plastic of, then when big enough to handle transplant to either bigger pots or outside.
You will not get flowers in the first season
As mentioned above this is one of the most poisonous plants in the flora, Foxgloves will grow in most soils and can be found growing in various places. It prefers a semi-shaded area and lots of moist but well drained soil. The first year the leaves appear and the rosettes are formed, and in the second year the flower spikes appear. The plant then dies but self seed its self everywhere, water the plant well in the summer.
Can be grown in containers, but it may need staking up to stop the wind damage.
Foxgloves are pretty free from pests and disease free
Foxgloves are grown commercially for the production of a drug the discovery (Major medicinal discovery), a classic example of folklore and science being bought together.
Foxglove contains glycosides which is taken from the plant during the plant second year of growing, the leaves are used to make up the heart drug Digitalis.
For over 200 years digitalis has been used for treating heart failure and it a powerful diuretic.
I cant find anything about using it in the kitchen; it does have health warning in the herbal community. It was used as an herbal tea, but the warning is not good so keep away!
Even touching foxgloves can cause rashes, headaches and even sever nausea. The warnings are DO NOT TOUCH!!
A real shame for a very lovely looking flower
As with all herbal medicine do your researches before you use it
Thanks for reading my reviews, and thankyou for rating them.
Tashi Delek (May everything be well)
enlightened_one © 2007