Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Foxgloves and Romance Novels

I wrestled for a while with the thought of letting the world outside my family know that next to gardening, my next great passion/addiction/timesuck is Romance Novels. Rarely do the two worlds connect. Occasionally, I might read a novel in my garden, which is truly enjoyable. Sometimes the destined lovers share an embrace in a garden, but that's generally the extent of the synergy. However, a recent Eloisa James novel featured one of my new favorite plants! As the plant is just now coming into full bloom, I had to share why I think this plant is so amazing, though I won't give away how it was used in the novel.

Last year, I tried my hand at sowing plants from seed (mostly driven by economy), and one of my successes was Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). Foxglove is a biennial, meaning it only grows foliage in its first year, flowers in its second, then dies. Most people are like, "Why bother?" and according to some garden book I read a while back, biennials are disappearing from our gardens.

This year, I had several healthy clumps and had been waiting impatiently as they started to develop flower stalks and finally blooms. Some of the plants are real monsters, at almost four feet. They seem to like a little dappled shade, but that's about it. I sowed more this Winter, and plan on keeping it up for a while.

If most biennials are as beautiful and easy to grow as Foxgloves, then their disappearance is a tragedy. Okay, maybe not a tragedy like the ones that occur in my novels, but it's a travesty at least. These plants germinate easily, and are almost impossible to kill. I would forget to water the seedlings, I moved them repeatedly from pot to pot, I stomped on their little leaves once I planted them outside, but they took took it all, and turned out just lovely. Here's a closeup:


P.S. One thing to note, these plants are very poisonous. Hmm, could that be a plot point in the novel? I won't give that away, but I did want to warn anyone thinking of growing them. Keep them away from animals and children, especially the vase water if you opt to cut them and bring them in. One last piece of synergy, I believe Foxgloves might be featured in Amy Stewart's new book, "Wicked Plants." I love Stewart's writing, so I have no doubt it will be a great read too. I mean, she's no Eloisa James, or anything, but she holds her own.


  1. You really shouldn't plant foxgloves in pots and move them about. Fairies make their homes in the foxglove flowers because the way they point downwards gives them shelter from a summer shower.

    If you move a foxglove, you make make a fairy homeless.

  2. Ha, ha...I only moved them when they were seedlings. Much too early to house a fairy, but good advice!