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June 16th, 2007 - Deirdre on reading, writing and living

Jun. 16th, 2007 11:34 am Digging the Learning Curve: A Foxglove Forrest, by Deirdre Sinnott

A tall stalk of purple flowers first drew my attention. I saw it as I drove around our circular street. I was prowling for garden ideas, noticing what my neighbors had and wishing that my garden wasn't an overgrown mess, but a place with filled flowers and veggies.

The sight of the mass of blooms looked familiar, but it wasn't until I consulted one of my books that I understood I was viewing a biennial treat. Foxglove (Digitalis purpuea) flowers every other year, and is both medicinal and deadly. I wanted one.

At the time the area I now call my garden was filled with unwanted trees, forsythia that leap from one parent bush to fill 16 feet of space with a jumble of children, and weeds--many, many weeds. In the first summer I pulled some things out, but I mostly just waited to see what the previous owner had left me.

The second summer I noticed that there were tall plants, that I took to be weeds, stretching up out of the lily beds. Once they opened, I was pleased to see foxglove scattered about. Each flowering spike looked glorious against the green backdrop of the too-thick tiger lilies. However, I am never one to leave well enough alone. I worried, what if I have none next year? According to my books it was an every other spring kind of thing.

So the third summer I went out and bought two plants from Agway. I'd be damned if I was going to be denied my beautiful bells. I transplanted and watered the plants with care. One morning, I noticed that something had devoured the main stem. Gone in a moment, I thought naively. The plant had a "Plan B." It retaliated with seven more flowering arms and was stunningly beautiful. Not only that, but I noticed that there were both blooming and non-blooming foxgloves all over.

I mowed around them, gave them a wide berth when I planted my veggies, and was careful to preserve this summer's crop.

Well the result is a Foxglove forrest! And I couldn't be happier.

Xposted: Blog & Gardening

Current Location: Catskills
Current Mood: satisfiedsatisfied

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