Week 13 – Digitalis trojans or Foxglove ‘Helen of Troy’
Apparently foxgloves used to be called “Folks Glove,” because its flower resembled the finger of gloves worn by “good folk” or fairie, who, like the plant, dwell in deep hollows and woody dells. Another theory is that the infamous ‘mr fox’ wore the gloves so he wouldn’t get caught raiding the chicken shed.
For me ‘Helen of Troy’ is a beautiful member of this relatively small family. I love it when they’re planted en-mass, so last week I planted about 100 in a couple of large drifts. Unlike many other members of the genus which tend to be biennials, D. trojans is a hardy perennial growing somewhere between 60-90cm. Straight-backed stems, garbed in gleaming darkly green lanceolate leaves with fine gray haired margins, spring from a handsome evergreen rosette. Indigenous to Turkey, this hard-to-find foxglove’s signature is its remarkable soft-looking, earthy flower spikes. fuzzy, tightly set, silver washed buds unveil caramel-colored blossoms, featuring elaborately patterned gold and rusty brown throats and luminous white lips. Long blooming, more drought tolerant than other digitalis and happiest in a cool, somewhat shady setting.