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Which foxglove?

JudyNJudyN Posts: 119

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I'd like to plant foxgloves in this bed, but there's a bewildering number of varieties now so would love some suggestions!

Back left is a new sarcococca confusa and some common aquelegia. Centre is a new Japanese anenome (September Charm), back right are four fuchsia 'Berry'. At the front are some relocated geraniums & alchemilla mollis. It's all a bit higgledy piggledy, but planning isn't my strong point!

Soil is dry, sandy, acid, and it's mainly shade.

OH likes 'bog standard' foxgloves so anything not purple or white is probably not an option, but I think if you can have something that flowers for longer, without the lower flowers all over by the time the top ones come out, why not? Also, heightwise, as the sarcococca isn't likely to get to be much over 4-5', I don't want anything too tall.

Also, when is the best time to plant - autumn or spring? I did try to grow foxgloves from seed once but without any success, and it would also be nice if they flowered next year. And if it's a biennial variety, I can always plant more a year later.

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  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,376

    If there was a foxglove that opened all its flowers at the same time the flowering time would be very short. How about some foxgloves and something else to extend the season. Foxgloves are biennial. There are digitalis that are perennial but not purple and there are hybrids that are non hardy.

    Foxgloves are tall. There may be short varieties but they'd lack the style of the real thing. 

  • JudyNJudyN Posts: 119

    Thanks for your reply, nutcutlet. I've just found an old thread about perennial digitalis which were supposed to be hardy but aren't. Though this one on Crocus is purple, perennial and they claim it is fully hardy: http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/digitalis--mertonensis/classid.2000014768/

    You're right that I need to combine them with something else to extend the season of interest - I want to let the bed develop gradually, though, as I work out what is happy growing there. It may well be that foxgloves won't be happy there anywhere because of the dry conditions, so it's a sort of experimental bedimage

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,589

    I woud suggest you add loads of well rotted garden compost and manure to that bed and fork it gently in before planting anything else and then add more as a mulch after planting and a thorough watering.

    I like Pam's Choice - http://www.kernock.co.uk/acatalog/Digitalis-purpurea-Pams-Choice-U1595.html for info.  You can grow it from seed or buy it on a good garden centre or nursery.   The plain white alba form is also lovely, especially for lighting up a shady spot.

    Have a look at persicaria Painter's palette for the shadier part of the bed.  It won't like sun but persicaria affinis does and will provide good ground cover.

    Use the RHS website's plant finder to fin other plants that will suit your soil and aspect and light levels to choose more that will carry you through the seasons.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,376

    we're pretty dry and foxgloves do OK here. Might keep the height down a bit as well.

    Mertonensis is a hybrid between the native Digitalis purpurea and D.grandiflora a yellow one. Might be a sterile hybrid so no seeds but not sure of that, it won't seed true if it does seed. It's not purple, it's sort of pinkish. I don't think it had the grace of the purple one, grandiflora is a bit dumpy by comparison.

  • You could try some sidalceas for later colour, they are tall and slender like foxgloves, with prettier leaves. They come in white, a purplish red and the delkectable Elsie Heugh , pale pink with pinked edges to the petals.

    Or some of the tall campanulas that have stems of bell shaped flowers, in white and shades of blue - not the very big ones like Lactiflora though, check the sizes carefully, they vary a lot as a speciesimage

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,277

    I have Pam's Choice too which is lovely,  and also Snow Thimble which is meant to be smaller, but is huge here with our wet climate and soil. As nut says, your drier conditions will keep them smaller, but you may have to move things if they aren't suitable height wise. Mine seed into lots of different places, including the drier areas where there's gravel. 

    It might be worth having some mid height perennials too, to give a better balance. Campanulas are a good suggestion as there are lots of different varieties and sizes.  A couple of evergreens for structure, and support for the taller plants, could also be useful. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • I like the mixes such as woodlanders or foxy, you get the purples but also some fantastic other purple/pink shades. I had quite a few that started a pale creamy shade but matured to a lovely pink-purple, giving a good mix of colours on the same plant.

    I would second fairygirl, and add some other plants to give a it more interest for the rest of the year. Mine are surrounded by daffodil bulbs, ferns and a japanese maple. Going for a woodland theme. :D

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