Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Foxgloves (12 JUN 2012)

My foxglove fetish had started to consume me to the point of hallucination. I even thought I spied them growing in the trees.

"foxglove tree" in my local park
Googled it to check my sanity ... such a tree exists! : paulownia tomentosa

I was soon brought to my senses though, as they were missing the mesmerising markings in the throat which lead the bees or folks (fairies) to the nectar deep inside the glove.

first signs of foxgloves this spring - not one black bean aphid in sight ...

To think I almost decided to give up growing foxgloves after ten specimens nurtured for two years were attacked by black bean aphids last summer, which reproduced faster than I could wash them off. Fearing that it would take years for the ecology in the garden to rebalance in my favour, I couldn't face watching the sap being sucked out of the leaves and buds, crumpling them to submission a second time. However, it was the sight of healthy self-seeded offspring from the infested plants which taught me that life goes on regardless and prompted me to hand-rear foxgloves of my own again in addition.

the biggest so far this year - reared by hand in my foxglove "nursery"
But biggest isn't always best, the blood red spots on white are more pronounced in the small foxgloves, merely sprayed on the flowers of this enlarged specimen.

Until today I have left a patch of the woodland untouched after planting the first foxgloves in 2010. Delegating to mother nature the responsibility to create harmony beyond my own imagination.

The seeds of the parent foxgloves germinated simultaneously under controlled conditions indoors. Their flowering last year passed in a relatively short time coinciding with the bluebells and the falling cherry blossoms, leaving me pining for more. The next generation came to life at different times depending on the spots where they fell in the woodland; the display during the past few weeks ranged from early plants which have lost most of their gloves to later plants which are still in bud. I've taken hundreds of photos since late spring but can't definitely label one as the point of climax, when all the plants in the woodland resonated together.

offspring from two foxgloves planted in the woodland in 2010  ...

Maybe harmony can't or rather shouldn't be sustained (dare I say that my heart stopped skipping a beat). The emerging roses, weigela and buttercups made odd companions with the foxgloves; the shade offered by the cherry's young leaves forced the spires to grow spindly reaching for sunlight.

... and here they are without those pesky roses in the way
The two parents of these foxgloves were mid-pink and pale-pink.

I had reached a state of acceptance (or apathy) when we experienced a bout of heavy winds and rain which is still ongoing.

... after a battering

My hybrid foxgloves excelsior have been bred to grow flowers around the stem which enables them to stand upright whereas their ancestors, species foxgloves, have flowers on one side of the stem only which gives them a bowed appearance. After recent winds and rain I understood why - bowing saves at least one side of the hybrid's flowers.

The foxgloves were battered but realising that this could be my chance, this morning I cut off all the flower spires to energise the side shoots together.
What lies between dissonance and harmony ?  : acceptance then anticipation - yes, the twinkle in my eye is back again.

Please visit Carol's MayDreamsGardens blog on the 15th of every month to see what's blooming in gardens around the world.

©Copyright 2012 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2012/06/foxgloves-12-jun-2012.html


Andrea said...

Hi b-a-g, i laughed reading your first sentence 'fetish to the point of hallucination', that was lovely. I am visualizing you in that manner, and you can't be blamed, foxgloves are really beautiful. Unfortunately, we are not privileged to have them in our gardens, it hates high temperature! But if i were with you, that will make two of us hallucinating.

Mark and Gaz said...

Good to know your spirits are still high despite the set back. The plant of the year Digitalis Illumination Pink might be an interest to you :)

Anonymous said...

Hi b-a-g,
your foxgloves really look wonderful! I love the different shades of pink and white of the 'home grown' ones, selected seeds all produce plants looking alike.
The Pauwlonia always reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy found that tree with hanging snacks, from now on I will think of foxgloves too!

Diana Studer said...

Will those picked flowers last a little longer in a vase?

Donna@GWGT said...

I too like your group of pinks this year. It is a nice variation on last year's foxglove. I never did have aphids on mine, so I guess I have been very lucky.

Stacy said...

I'm glad the aphids didn't discourage you last year, b-a-g. And that in this case you decided not to leave the woodland 100% to its own devices. After all, weren't even ancient woodlands "managed" in some way by the people who dwelt in them? Maybe not for maximum foxglove production, but still. You're in fine company.

Crystal said...

Your Foxglove display looks lovely. I moved a number of mine last autumn. They should have re-established, but the winter drought did them no favours. Fortunately, the ones I left alone are just starting to open their first buds.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Fabulous news and these are just gorgeous and so tall. Mine were small this year. I think I have them in too much moist sun. I should move a few to the tree areas and see how they do...the colors of yours are stunning. Happy GBBD!

Patty said...

One of the prettiest photos I have seen of foxgloves (in some book somewhere)was taken in late afternoon with the foxgloves back-lit on a hill near an old tree. Magical.

linniew said...

Your 'hand-reared' foxgloves make me think of hand-fed parrot babies--very tame and friendly. The photos are beautiful. I love flowers that grow in spires even if they need staking sometimes.

b-a-g said...

Thanks all for your comments ...

Then I would be in good company Andrea.
Mark & Gaz - I like the colouring of Illumination Pink but it has lost the lovely bell shape - maybe that's the new fashion.
Alberto - Likewise, when I see the foxglove tree I'll think of the Wizard of Oz.
Diana - I didn't think of that, but I did notice that the bees continued buzzing into the flowers as the cut spires lay on the ground.
Donna GWGT & Stacy- maybe the aphid larvae in my garden are waiting for some warm weather before they hatch out.
Crystal - yes me too, the plants that I thinned out from the nursery didn't grow so well. Looking forward to seeing your foxgloves.
Donna GEV - In my experiment last year, I found that foxgloves in moist soil with dappled-shade grew in the right proportion, tall but not spindly.
Patty - I'm still trying to get that magical photo.
Linnie - I think that was the problem, they looked like they were trying to please, posing for a photo. They almost looked better when they were windswept.

The Sage Butterfly said...

Such beauties! I have grown these for several years, but they did not come up this year for some reason. They are one of my favorites and I wish the blooms lasted longer.

Carolyn said...

You are truly obsessed but at least its with a beautiful plant. Is there a Foxgloves Anonymous. Pawlonias are awful weeds here.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog said...

I Love Foxgloves too - Yours are in a word - Stunning!

b-a-g said...

Sage Butterfly & Christine - You have great taste !

You're right Carolyn, maybe my garden should be the HQ. Sad to read that pawlonias are weeds in your area, they look beautiful to me. I read that after pollarding they produce huge leaves but I haven't seen this yet.

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