Plant of the Moment: Digitalis ferruginea

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The plant of the moment is definitely the Digitalis ferruginea also known as the Rusty Foxglove.  I grew these from seed probably two years ago and this is their first year of flowering and the wait has certainly been worth it.

Why Rusty Foxglove? Well I think the colours give  that away and the stem of the species name ferrum means iron so you can see how the common name came about.

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Digitalis ferruginea is from the northern mediterranean and is doing very well in a shady border in my garden which gets somewhat dry at this time of year although it is quite damp in the winter which I suppose replicates the climate in the northern med.  As you can see the bees like it too and just before I took these photographs there were at least five bees on most of the flower spikes. My son and I had an interesting conversation about the plant’s origin and whether it was native which would explain its attraction to bees.  However as my research has shown they aren’t natives of this country and as I have found time and again with other non-natives they are still very popular with the bees so it makes me question the argument that you need native plants to attract and support pollinators.

The leaves are  long and thin rather than the more rounded felty leaves of Digitalis  purpurea.  Being thinner they aren’t so dominant in the border and provide a nice contrast to Geraniums and Hostas.  The Digitalis ferruginea is also good to grow with ferns and I think I need to add more ferns around mine – I have some Autumn Ferns which would work really well with the colouring.

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But what I especially love aside from the fabulous peachy colour is the intricate reddish brown veining on the petals and the wonderful hairs.  For me this Digitalis is by far more elegant and beautiful than the standard Digitalis purpurea which is, I think you will agree a gorgeous plant itself, so you can see how gorgeous I think the Rusty Foxglove is.

Apparently although many treat it as a biennial it is actually a short-lived perennial which will self-seed.  Therefore I am definitely going to be collecting seed so that I have some more in a couple of years and hopefully the current plants will last for a year more.

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Anna B says:

    That is a very beautiful foxglove! Mine have all passed their best now but I didn’t gave that particular one growing. Very nice indeed!

  2. amy says:

    Wow, that is an amazing plant that I have never seen or heard or before. Very interesting to get to see it here, so thank you for sharing.

  3. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Last spring in my old garden I had the lovely apricot fox glove – a nice statement plant. It seeded prolifically but I don’t think I managed to take any here. A friend gave me 4 little plants ? apricot and I planted them but the blackbirds have had a lovely scratchy time and I can only see one. I have asked my friend to take some more plants up and this time I will grow them on to a better size and hope they survive the blackbirds. I love birds but the blackbirds get very enthusiastic scratching for bugs and soil gets scattered far and wide. Very strong easterly part of tropical storm but not much rain from it yet. I have had to water! In winter? weird.

  4. Pauline says:

    Yes, a really lovely plant,I have had mine for at least 5 yrs now, this is the first year they haven’t flowered, I wonder why? I think maybe I ought to move and split them to make them happier.

  5. hillwards says:

    Lovely plants. The colour and veining are very pretty, and they are that bit later than the purpureas to extend foxglove season nicely.

  6. Annette says:

    One of my favourite perennials, absolutely awesome!

  7. I just love this foxglove but don’t have it at the moment. I thought they were sterile so I must now look for seed. I have a similar shaped flower in a greeny white which is doing very well, cant remember its name.

  8. b-a-g says:

    The veining is beautiful. It also seems that the bells hang onto the stem for longer compared to purperea. Usually the bottom bells fall off before the top bells open.

  9. Ricki Grady says:

    Native foxgloves run rampant around here, but this one looks twice as interesting. I can’t wait to try it. Well, I guess a little waiting will have to take place before I’ll see those wonderful blossoms.

  10. Great photos Helen, I am about to pot mine up, I hope they mature into the same wonderful plants as you have.

  11. Denise says:

    A foxglove I’ve tried to please here in So. Calif., but not yet. Yours are fantastic.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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