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Pink Foxgloves


When I read the description: “palest pink, with a hint of warm champagne color” is how I remember it – I had to have it.

Yet, as with so many kinds of desire, I found that when I’d realized my dream, it came with a whimper, and not a bang. The difference between D. purpurea ‘Champagne’ and D. purpurea is detectable by the naked eye, but only just.

While I loved the grouping of the pink(ish) foxglove with rose ‘Sharifa Asma’, and the beautiful vining Dioscorea batatas (pictured at the top of the page), I just wasn’t convinced that this particular foxglove looked all that different from the wild type.

In this picture, you can see cream-yellow shading in the opening flowers that/which might lead someone to the name ‘Champagne’.


And in this one, a more normal wild version of foxglove is on the left, while the paler ‘Champagne’ is on the right. Trouble is – they came from the same packet of seed. I didn’t plant any plain wild purpureas there, and made a point of planting seedlings into separate containers by type. Since D. purpurea seems to sport a lot, it’s entirely possible that one of the seedlings just reverted back to wild type. It’s also possible that other seedlings might have been more markedly different from the wild-type, more like the description of my dreams.


But I have too small a garden to get really scientific about this, and so I just struck ‘Champagne’ from my roster. I haven’t planted it since.

This year, I planted a Digitalis purpurea ssp. ‘Heywoodii’  (Silver Fox and Pink Champagne are two of its cultivar names – could this be the very same seed under another name?). I got the seeds from J.L. Hudson. They are silver-down-leaved hardy biennials from southern Portugal,  where it grows on granite outcroppings. I’m guessing these outcroppings might be in the mountains, because this digitalis is short: about 30″ tall. (So maybe it is a different kind of seed; my ‘Champagne’ grew at least 5 feet tall.) Some sources say  D. p. ‘Heywoodii’ has a tendency to go perennial, which always attracts me.  The flowers are crowded in loose spikes and the color, says the seed packet, is “creamy white blushed pink”. Hope springs eternal.

Next post: Strawberry foxglove. Not as big a deal as I’d hoped.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Jan January 25, 2009, 5:12 pm

    I have always wanted to grow foxgloves but never have. Your pictures are so lovely that it makes me wish I had planted some earlier this year.

    Always Growing

  • Jen January 25, 2009, 7:48 pm

    I live in a condo, and still remember with awe, the year the foxgloves took over our front landscaped garden. Who knows how they got there, ah but they were beautiful. I have tried to reseed them again, sneakily, but the gardeners always pull them out.

    All the old English people were annoyed at those “common” flowers daring to bloom, but I did not care.


  • Sylvia (England) January 26, 2009, 7:32 am

    They see us coming! Pomona, haven’t we all bought seed or a plant that promises to be different only to find it is the same (to our eyes) and the common plant. I hope you have better luck with Heywoodii. With the more daylight my plants, from seed last year, are starting to grow despite several nights of frosts each week. It is just light enough for me to see them as I pass when I get home each day. I am enjoying these posts on foxgloves.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  • Pomona Belvedere January 27, 2009, 1:31 pm

    You can always be lazy, as I often am, and buy plants the year you want your foxgloves. If you’re not picky as to variety, you can get them quite cheaply. (If you are picky, they’re still not horribly costly, as plants go). I think it’s a great pity foxgloves are thought of as weedy, they are so beautiful. Common things often are. They do grow well in containers, especially deeper ones, so it would be possible to do a specimen one on a deck or porch (or maybe even in a cool room? I don’t know but could be fun to try). You miss the mass effect, but you get to admire every aspect them close up, which is great fun. I’ll report back on the Heywoodii.

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