Three-foot-tall flower spikes, sporting 3-inch, trumpet-shaped, speckle-throated flowers in shades of white and pink were lucky to be spared by county workers mowing weeds and grass alongside a country road. If these pretty plants had naturalized just a few feet closer to the road, they'd have been mowed down to the ground along with the grass and weeds
Common digitalis (Digitalis purpurea), better known as foxgloves, are native to Africa, Asia and Europe, and are the source of the heart drug digitalis.
Curiously, though, all parts of foxgloves are poisonous to pets and people. Yet this hasn't prevented foxgloves from becoming popular garden plants that are typically sold in bud-and-bloom, in shades of yellow, red and purple, as well as pink and white.
Easy-to-grow, foxgloves bloom from spring through fall, in full sun or in partial shade, providing the soil drains freely and their spent flower spikes are cut to the ground soon after they've finished blooming.
Late in the growing season, though, some of the flower spikes should be left standing to produce seeds for the next generation of plants that will bloom in two years.
Foxgloves, you see, are biannuals, plants that flower the second year.
In the meantime, don't bring foxgloves inside for use in cut-flower displays, because legend has it you'll upset the fairies that guard these plants, thereby causing bad luck to follow you.
Which reminds me, it's lucky for those county weed-whackers that they left the roadside foxgloves standing. Lucky for me, too, since I had a chance to see them growing as naturalized wildflowers.
This week in the garden
I gave my father his annual allotment of six home-grown cherry tomato plants, which he insists on growing in full shade instead of full sun.
If dad has a good year with my plants, he'll harvest a few tomatoes from each one.
He knows that just one plant grown in full sun will typically produce hundreds of tomatoes. But he also knows that he'll get from me more cherry tomatoes than he can eat.