Sign In to join the community | Help
Lawn & Garden

Fox Glove

I have been enchanted by Fox Glove ever since I was a young. A patch of Fox Glove thrived among the roots and in the shade of an old oak tree that grew, towering, on an embankment, in the front garden, of a house that stood on the corner of Clement Ave and Kenneth Street in the West Roxbury section of Boston. I passed the magical swath of Fox Glove on my remorseful walk home from summer school, yup…. summer school.

I remember the day that I first saw the Fox Glove, I believe that was the very second that my true interest and love of  flowers began. I was charmed when I looked up to see the beautiful pale purple, and white bells with their dotted throats standing tall above me. The patch wrapped the corner, it was a magical, alluring sight. I had never seen anything like it, these flowers captured my breath I was, awestruck and alone, so I had no one to chat with about my fanciful discovery.

I recall coaxing one of my friends to take a bike ride to look at these beautiful flowers, she was not as impressed as I was.

I passed that corner every day for several weeks throughout my enduring days of summer school. Finally one afternoon there was a women in the garden and I asked her about the beautiful flowers with the bells and the pale green stalks that still stood magnificently after so many hot summer days.

“Those flowers are called Fox Gloves”, she said, I remember questioning the name and she stood in her garden and told me the legend of the Fox Glove.

“It is said that the meadow fairies would place the bells on the paws of the foxes so they could creep into the hen house without being heard to take a few eggs” she had me at fairies! I told her they were the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen, “beautiful but deadly” she said, “the plant is poisonous”, once again I was awe struck.

I have never forgotten that garden, in fact the next summer I did not have to go to summer school, (never again) but I made a conscious effort to go by that garden to see the Fox Gloves and they were not there, so disappointing. It was not until many years later that I learned that Fox Gloves are biennial plants, flowering every other year, another reason to be mystified by the garden masterpieces.

Over the years I have learned many tales about Fox Gloves, it seems like every time I look them up I find more details about the importance of this  mesmerizing plant. Digitalis is the botanical name  it was first used for its medicinal properties in 1327 unbelievable right? Although the entire plant is toxic and if ingested can lead to death, it was administered in small portions in tonics, tincture, potions and elixirs by alchemist to help with all sorts of ailments.

In modern-day medicine it is used in the cardiac medicine Digoxin, to help regulate the rhythm of the heart, helping and saving millions of people since the pharmaceutical use began in 1930. 

Today I learned that Vincent Van Gogh took a form of digitalis to treat his epilepsy, one of his many recorded illnesses. Van Gogh suffered side effects of digitalis, xanthopsia, a visual abnormality in which objects with light seem to have yellowish hallows and objects are somewhat distorted. Amazing to think that Fox Glove may have played a part in Van Gogh’s masterpiece Starry Night, and many more of the impressionists work.

The Stupell Home Decor Collection 11 in. x 14 in. "Van Gogh Starry Night Post Impressionist Painting" by Vincent Van Gogh Framed Wall Art

 It seems that there is always something new to learn about Fox Glove, I have not be disappointed yet and better still; there are new varieties, hybrid Fox Gloves showing there beautiful throats in the flower world, the colors are stunning and the compact sizes are delightful!

The top picture is that of a new variety of Fox Glove to The Home Depot this season, the demure, petite “Fox light” Ruby Glow, this plant is a “true gem” in any partial shade garden. Ruby Glow grows about 22-24 inches in height and has a clump spread of about 18-20 inches across it is a “wee bit” of something very special in the garden. The flower bells chime from late spring thru the hot summer months, and the bells lure the pollinators in like “magic”!

The Fox Gloves are beginning to say good bye to the summer now, (the photo was taken weeks ago), but put on your gloves and cut back the spent stalks and the fairies will come by to send a few last bells your way and the Fox Glove will have one last summer hurrah!

The Fox Glove is a very special flower, there truly is magic in there blooms, they are not a reliable repeater, they may never come back in your garden if you plant them, but it is so worth the gamble.  Planting a Fox Glove when it is fresh from Home Depot is the best way to ensure blooms for the season. Stop by your local Home Depot and see if there are any Fox Gloves left.

Enjoy the magic of summer and become enchanted with all its blooms,


To be continued.....

Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2019-08-08T18:17:01+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS Maureen_HD_BOS

What am amazing post, delightful and informative, the reminisces from your childhood, are quite moving, you truly have a special talent, which allows you to not just describe a flower but to create an experience for us all.

Keep the posts coming!

Posted 2019-08-30T00:34:01+0000  by Mike_HD_OC
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question