Current Plant Crush: Strawberry Foxglove

I'm still waiting for flowers like this. Maybe next year?

Last spring I was re-designing a largish bed in my back yard – it’s sort of a weird bed because one side of it gets decent sun but the other side is pretty shady.  My plan included Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’, Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’, Carex pennsylvanica, Heuchera ‘Dale’s Strain’, and Sarcococca

After planting all of that, I stepped back and realized it was missing something.  I thought it would look cool to have some tall, spiky perennials dotted amongst these groundcovers and shrubs, and I was thinking something in the rose-pink family would do the trick, so I went back to the nursery to do some scouting.

It was then that I stumbled upon Strawberry Foxglove (Digitalis x mertonensis), which I knew nothing about it, but which looked promising.  Instead of going home to do research and see whether or not this plant would truly be a good fit – as a wise and disciplined gardener would do — I purchased five of them on pure impulse. 

At the time of purchase and planting, these foxgloves had no flowers or even buds; only the large, deep green, dimply leaves were present.  I waited patiently for them to show some buds, but it never happened.  Now, I know that the common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, is a biennial, and that it would be normal for the flowers to emerge in the second year.  Strawberry Foxglove, however, is billed as a true perennial, and so I thought I might get a glimpse of its flowers the first year.

But no.

I will be bummed if these things never flower.  However, I must say that the toughness of their foliage has really impressed me.  During that terrible heatwave in July, when everything else in the garden was looking parched and withered, my Strawberry Foxgloves stayed fresh and green, with very little extra watering.

And even now, in early December, they are cheerful tufts of green among the straw-colored carex.  It looks like I have five big plates of spinach salad sitting in the garden:

Strawberry Foxglove on December 1. I almost want to drizzle some balsamic dressing on it.

(I should also add that these foxgloves survived being dug up two weeks after planting — inexplicably — by my four-year-old son, who was enjoying an unsupervised and fairly destructive jaunt through the garden — a story best told in a separate post.)

Anyhow, if these things give me flowers next year – fingers crossed! – I will be smitten!