Tag Archives: foxglove

Foxglove Surprise

Gardens often hold secrets. I purchased a small foxglove plant May, 2013. Although it did not bloom as promised that year, the following year it had two beautiful spikes.

May 8, 2012. Newly planted Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’

Following year. May 17, 2014. Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ (Pam’s Choice Foxglove)

Fast forward seven years. This month I have been guarding a foxglove that appeared unexpectedly, scratching my head as to where it came from. It began opening 3 days ago.

May 23, 2021. Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice

May 23, 2021. Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice

When I could finally look inside I was able to match it to that long-forgotten one, Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’, back for a visit long overdue.

May 23, 2021. Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice

Water drops always make flowers even more intriguing. Sadly these are from my hand watering the garden yesterday. No rain to speak of for two months.)

May 23, 2021. Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’


A Few May Highlights

Even with my normal blinders on I have noticed some rather brash weeds, one standing as tall as the iris the other day. Despite that, the garden this spring has been enchanting—a peaceful and meditative place that also is happily filled with flowers.

A peony novice, I appreciate them more every year. The first I planted several years ago was  Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ and it has just bloomed in the last two days. The cold winter was good for it I guess, as it is loaded with blooms. Last year, just when Pink Parfait’s flowers opened, severe rainstorms turned them into a soggy mess. This spring is different. In the last three weeks we have had heavy, heavy rain, but all coming in a single day—not ideal for the garden in general, but the peonies are lasting better.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) makes a nice companion plant for the peony.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

And the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) has also worked great with my passalong phlox.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

The Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) in the northern border continues to add rich texture and color (and as a bonus it holds up well in a vase). One of the nearly black bearded iris is still blooming nearby.

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Last year I had the idea to create a red border (and it could still happen, but I am not actively working on it). With that in mind though last April I planted Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ in the southern border to accompany a new white peony and a new dark red one. None of them bloomed last year and the dark red peony seems not to have survived, but Pam’s Choice is looking great.

Digitalis purpurea 'Pam's Choice' (Pam's Choice Foxglove)

Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ (Pam’s Choice Foxglove)

Forming part of the walls of the labyrinth, a large planting of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) has been flowering for 4 or 5 days. These evergreen plants have seeded generously and I have been able to establish them in several other parts of the garden as well.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) in the Meditation Circle

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) in the Meditation Circle

The penstemon in the meditation circle need to be divided and the pansies are overdue for removal.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

A potted Hippeastrum (Amaryllis), kept over the winter in the garage, bloomed successfully this spring. Now there are two blooming outdoors in the southern border, which I find more exciting. They have been growing outside for a number of years but do not always flower well.

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

A little ground cover planted last year looked just ok during the winter but it has filled out with lots of dainty blue flowers and is creeping between the stepping stones near the north gate. Its name is Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper).

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Another addition to the garden last spring was this dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea, now sporting a lone flower. Named ‘Ruby Slippers,’ it is supposed to have beautiful red fall color, both leaves and flowers. Although this has become a rather shady location, Phlox paniculata still seems perfectly happy, as seen in the background.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

A garden club friend gave me some yellow Primrose this spring with the warning it spreads like crazy.  Last year I refused the same plant for that very reason. If anyone recognizes it and can give me some details on it I would appreciate it.



This was a tag-along plant from the primrose. Does anyone recognize it?

Tag along from the yellow primrose

There are three Baptisias in the garden, none of which perform well to my dismay. The deer stripped every flower off the stems of one that lives outside the fenced area just as I began to hold high hopes for it this year. The other two are underachievers, though to be fair, both are perhaps a bit crowded. I love the blue color of the flowers.

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Along the southern side path plants often decide for themselves where they like to sit. Some years I make suggestions, but this year they have had free rein and I actually love the loose, effusive effect of letting them have their own way. (Self-seeded cleome will have to be removed from the path itself.) The very first bearded iris to bloom were these yellow ones and they are still putting on a show.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) Along Southern Path

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) Along Southern Path

Along this path Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and white Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) began blooming about a week ago. The red Lychnis did not make it this year.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

This tall verbena took hold along the path last year and seems content as the evening approaches.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Mid-June Musings

Garden View In JuneThe garden at this point in June seems like an entirely new one—so different from the early spring palette. A salmon-orange Gladiolus from years ago brashly turned up in the Southern border today. I almost admired it for being so bold, but in the end I cut it and placed it in a nice vase indoors. Beebalm is in full bloom, Echinacea is maturing in many parts of the garden and last year’s Allium ‘Drumstick’ is back. All are attracting bees. A hummingbird visited the beebalm yesterday. There have been a few other hummingbirds this year, but now that the beebalm is blooming perhaps there will be many more.


A Foxglove mystery may be solved. This Foxglove has been in the garden since 2008 or 2009 and I thought it had caramel in the name, but never could find the tag. The coloring is creamy when the flowers first appear. Inside the flowers are yellow with reddish-brown veins and a hairy lip. Today I researched it a bit and hope I have it identified properly now. Could this be Digitalis ferruginea (‘Gelber Herold’, ‘Yellow Herald’, Rusty Foxglove)?


Today the weather was clear, hot and very humid, reaching 93°F. before severe thunderstorms passed through this evening. The winds overturned a bench and a flowerpot, but otherwise things seem ok for us. Some of our neighbors are reporting trees down, cable service lost and even roof damage.

Irises and Spiderwort

Iris Border

Iris Border

Despite the heat I chose today to dig up some of the dozens and dozens of Spiderwort that have aggressively expanded throughout most of the borders. I had to dig up many irises in order to get to the roots of the Spiderwort, so now there is a lot of work to replant some of the irises and find a good home for the rest. Fortunately the high temperature tomorrow will be a nice 81°F. so the work should be enjoyable. The irises have needed division for years, but actually they bloomed incredibly well this spring anyway. The amount of Spiderwort I managed to dig today is just a small portion of the total I want to remove.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

This white one looked so innocent and beautiful this morning. Actually this particular clump has not spread like the others, but it is getting very large.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Garden Fauna

A variety of birds fill the garden with color and song. Fireflies or lightning bugs have been out in the evenings for several weeks. Frogs sing frequently and incessantly, though I have not seen one in the garden. A couple of little bunnies are nibbling Thyme in the meditation circle. No sign yet of the 17-year cicadas.

A Mild March Day

It is seventy-one this afternoon and the clouds move in and out.  Earlier, the sun was nice and warm and the several hours spent weeding this morning passed easily.

Suddenly the spiraea is covered in little white flowers, several weeks earlier than usual perhaps. This deciduous shrub is a long-time favorite.




Nearby a recently transplanted plant with two mottled, red leaves is reminiscent of a trout lily, but its identification is uncertain.

Perhaps a Trout Lily?

Three or four Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) were visible all winter and are starting to grow.

Digitalis purpurea Foxglove

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) never died back during the winter. The clumps could use division. Transplants from last year look healthy and strong.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Several new Phlox subulata added to the garden a few weeks ago have acclimated well. This one is ‘Purple Beauty.’

Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty'

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) continue to add color around several areas of the garden. I transplanted a few small seedlings to a shady spot near the back steps.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

A row of ‘Chuck Hayes’ gardenias once formed a low hedge along the back border of the garden, but a couple years of drought killed off many. The five that remain look greener and healthier than usual this Spring.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

The daffodils are already finishing up their cheerful displays. This one is ‘Flower Carpet.’

Daffodil 'Flower Carpet'

Morning Garden Walk

The backyard garden at the end of May is pleasant and lush, with inviting colors, textures, diversity of plants, and sounds of birds, elevating this morning’s walk to a remarkably satisfying experience for this gardener.

Chrysanthemum, silvery Dusty Miller, Sweet Pea combine with soft leaves of Eastern Red Columbine.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) wake up the early morning garden with intense blues, but close under the strong sun by midday.  The pink yarrow and white rose campion mix well and the tall blades of iris add balance.

Nearby a lantana has sprung to life and soon will be covered in multicolored clusters of red, yellow and orange.

Stachys (Lamb’s ear) brightens the back corner between some irises and a gardenia.  The gardenia will soon add its unique fragrance to the garden.

The Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) earlier seemed terribly crowded by the irises, but as its bloomtime approaches it stands tall.

Verbena bonariensis frequently draws American goldfinches to the garden.  It is surrounded by a foxglove, shasta daisies, tradescantia, a rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ and gardenias.

The meditation circle with its labyrinth still has more mulch than plants. Five bonariensis await planting within but I am hesitant about whether they are a good choice. Meanwhile the penstemon and angelonia have worked out great.  The thyme lacks a strong presence, though it grows fine and has bloomed.  The candytuft bloomed a rewarding second time.

Many more plants are tucked and packed into this small backyard haven, making each morning’s walk new and interesting as they transition through life.


After a week of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching into the nineties, last night’s cooling breezes and this morning’s crisp air were welcome.  Despite the prediction of rain I broke my rule against watering and gave some plants a good drink.  Still only 66 degrees by lunchtime, the heavy rain started suddenly and continued steadily until early evening, and streets flooded in Chapel Hill.  The garden’s meditation circle flooded near the entrance and in the middle, draining pretty well afterwards, but leaving a stark contrast to its bleached-out look under the severity of the sun earlier in the week.  After a rosy-clouded sunset, the rains returned.


In early spring first the lenten roses, then the daffodils and spirea dominated the garden. By mid-April the first bearded iris had opened. Now, three and a half weeks later, a few irises, along with the old-fashioned rose and the clematises, remain in bloom.  Take a quiet stroll around the perennial beds and it is easy to notice the garden again is in transition.

Verbena bonariensis

A verbena bonariensis is blooming and echinacea (purple coneflower) are beginning to open.

Several foxgloves are forming their complex flowers. Nearby an ‘Irish eyes’ rudbeckia already has reached two of its expected five feet.

The monarda (bee balm) also is tall and seems primed for a big display of red and fragrance.

A soft gray mound of artemisia accents the border and a perennial Dusty miller is creeping through the garden. Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) will soon add its bright reddish-orange color to the blue palette that has predominated the garden in early spring.


The very tips of the white tubular flowers of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are becoming visible.

These two penstemon are planted inside the meditation path forming a wall at one of the turnaround points.


One of the small pink yarrow is just beginning to open among the lamb’s ears. Rising only 10-15 inches, it has a lacy flower and a dark green, feathery-soft foliage.

Lavender will soon be adding its beautiful color and unique fragrance to several locations. The lavenders responded positively to severe pruning in February.


A Garden Highlight

An exciting highlight is the single bloom on the peony recently added to the garden, Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait.’  Although its planting tag indicated a June bloom, it was ready yesterday without regard to the calendar, as was the gardener.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Changes Bring Chores

As the focus transitions away from roses and irises there are many required tasks this week that will help keep the garden looking nice. The faded iris blooms and the bloom stalks need to trimmed back to tidy up, although the leaves need to remain for several months before being trimmed back to 6 inches in a fan shape. Is this the year the irises will finally get divided?

Rose Campion

The southern path is full of white rose campion, but none of the favored magenta-hued rose campion survived the winter.  Deadheading is a must if they are to continue to look attractive and to keep them from self-sowing so heavily.

The many Eastern Red Columbine is done for this year and needs to be cut back severely; it will maintain a nice green mound all summer.

Tradescantia is pretty now but needs to be thinned, as it has spread too widely. Many were sheared heavily ten days ago. The daylilies, the sweet peas–all overgrown.  The spirea finished its bloom weeks ago and should be pruned back hard to maintain its size. Other chores abound.  The fence installation was completed last week and paths to the gates need to be improved.

How to finish planting the meditation circle is still an interesting problem to solve, something to ponder while working on these maintenance tasks this week and contemplating transitions.

Sunday Almanac

It was a dark and stormy night, producing more than an inch of rain. The sun emerged today eventually bringing temperatures up to 70 degrees.   Tomorrow is forecast to be 87 degrees, not quite enough to top the 1978 record of 90 degrees.

The meditation circle garden is a flooded, soppy mess today so it has not been possible to proceed.

Unnoticed before today, it seems suddenly a few foxgloves have sprung up in the perennial bed at the western border of the garden.

Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) 4-10-2011

On Flag Day, 2009, the foxglove made a strong statement in the garden.  A richer color would have been a nicer choice perhaps.

Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) 7-14-2009

The southern path is filling out but does nothing to screen the neighbors’ side yard. This area needs some thought as the garden renovation progresses. There is always plenty to think about in a garden.

Southern path viewed exiting the garden