The first time I saw foxglove, Dave and I spotted it as we walked through Shakespeare’s gardens at Stratford upon Avon. Touring through England, Wales and Scotland on The Best of Britain Tour, we were celebrating our 25th anniversary.
So when we retired, Dave sowed boxes of wild flower seeds and we waited to see what might grow in our yard.
Happily, we ended up with a few foxglove plants among the mix. This year, several of the plants are approaching five feet in height.
In retirement, I have the time to look up information about the flora that is beginning to thrive in our garden here.So, as I study this bell-shaped flower, I wonder why glove is part of the name of this gorgeous plant?
A rhyme by William Browne of Tavistock maintained the thought of foxgloves as gloves, which were being sought by Pan for his mistress:
To keep her slender fingers from the sunne
Pan through the pastures oftentimes hath runne,
To pluck the speckled foxglove from their stemme
And on those fingers neatly placed them.
But Christina Rossetti, taking a more realistic view, wrote in Sing-Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book of the improbable names of plants and animals, ending,
No dandelions tell the time,
Although they turn to clocks;
Cat’s cradle does not hold the cat,
Nor foxgloves fit the fox.
Another bumper crop in the garden is called Sweet William. We love it because it attracts butterflies and birds, especially our dive-bombing hummingbirds. The sweet nectar and strong aroma make it a natural draw, even for bees.
Our Sweet William boast reds, pinks, white and combinations of colors as the seeds cross pollinate.
Legends proclaim that this flower is named after Prince William, Duke of Cumberland; William Shakespeare, Saint William of York, and William the Conqueror, though no specific person has ever been declared the sole source of the Sweet William flower.
I pick the flowers and love making this arrangement for the porch table we use in the summer months.
Alongside the flowers I chose yesterday, Dave lay his pistol, his weapon of choice to deter the chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits that dine on our flora and fauna.
In retirement, we laugh at our diversity!