When I returned to the United States from studying in England, I was so excited about the potential of perennial garden plants I could hardly contain myself. I had lists of plants I wanted to try and photographs of the best combinations I had seen traveling the length and breadth of the British Isles. Even today, I am inspired to recreate what I remember as some of the more outstanding images. I remember a particular vision of delight I encountered at Henbury in Cheshire. Even though there was so much to take in, an impressive stand of foxgloves stands out in my memory. It had nestled itself among a vast bank of white hydrangea on a gentle slope. The tall spikes of the pink foxgloves dominated the foreground and were a striking contrast to the large green to white softball-like flower heads of the hydrangea. From this experience, I vowed I would have foxglove in my garden just as soon as I could get home and turn the soil.

Foxglove is a tall, lanky wildflower with spiraling grey-green downy leaves that are wider at the base of the stalks than at the top, giving it a triangular or elongated conical shape. The top of the stalk bears clusters of small bluish purple, pink, or white bell shaped flowers accented with dark contrasting dots on the lower inside lip of the flower. Foxglove is considered a biennial, which means if you plant the seed this year, it will be two years before they flower.

Foxglove tolerates partial shade and mine seem to do best in rich, loose garden soil that’s well drained. After all danger of frost, sow seeds outdoors. Do not cover seeds. Firm by light tamping. When plants are 4 inches high, thin or transplant.