Bees get a buzz out of foxgloves
I LOVE foxgloves and our garden is full of them at the moment. They are sprouting out of the garden and are even sticking out of our stone wall.
The wind blew one of them over during the storms earlier this month, so we now have a three-foot foxglove growing horizontally over the shed. The rest are just sticking up high above the walls making the garden look like some pinkturreted Disneyland castle.
And it’s great fun to see and hear bees making their way into the tube-shaped flowers. You can hear them happily buzzing away inside the flower before staggering out with a smile on their faces, looking like they have just been on a funfair ride.
We even have a white foxglove and I have no idea where that came from?
These wonderful plants can be seen along the river banks of the North West and this year seems to be a particularly good year for them. This is great news for insects including honey bees, bumblebees and moths.
Foxgloves have large, flat leaves that form the base of the plant, and tall, upright flower spikes. The tube-shaped, pink flowers arranged around the stem are unmistakable and open in sequence from the bottom up.
They really do look like bells hanging from that stem. They flower every two years between June and September. Foxgloves can be found in woodlands and gardens, and on moorlands, coastal cliffs, roadside verges and waste ground.
Over the centuries they have acquired a number of names, the cutest being bunny rabbit’s mouth and the worst being a witch’s thimble. They are also called ladies thimble, goose flop, cow flop, fox flop, dead men’s bells, gloves of our lady and bloody fingers.
Some experts believe the foxglove name might originally have come from fairy’s glove but why can’t a fox wear gloves?
Some chemicals extracted from foxgloves have been used in the treatment of heart conditions and for cleaning wounds in the past, but eating them is not recommended as they are poisonous.
At the very least they will give you a very bad tummy ache and, at worst, they could actually kill you.
Of course if a bee is inside a foxglove that frantic buzzing is likely to put you off touching the flowers. With bee numbers suffering in the UK it is great to see so many bee-friendly summer plants in the wild and in gardens.
Foxgloves make a highlight in any garden’s nectar café – an area set aside to attract insects.
It’s a great way to create a buzz on your own doorstep.
To support the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside text WILD09 with the amount you want to donate to 70070.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey.
It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 27,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of the trust go to the website at www.lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org.
●● A cluster of tubular foxglove flowers