A per­fect fit for sum­mer

FAIRY TALE: How did the fox­glove get its name? David Ov­erend re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Advertising Feature -

PPORTUNIST is a word ap­plied to quite a few plants – par­tic­u­larly in­va­sive weeds. Oc­ca­sion­ally, how­ever, it fits the bill with a hand­some flower.

So it is that just when it seemed that it couldn’t get any bet­ter for the not-so­hum­ble fox­glove, sum­mer 2015 comes along and gives the flower the chance to show its abil­ity to be an op­por­tunist.

For a plant which prefers a bit of shade, it has taken to the sun and the heat and ev­ery spare bit of soil seems to have been colonised, most of­ten by the com­mon pur­ple form, although a few white and cream ver­sions can be seen among the crowds.

Dig­i­talis pur­purea is hav­ing a field day, par­tic­u­larly where ar­eas of land have been dis­turbed and then left fal­low.

This is a plant with pres­ence, a wild and won­der­ful bloomer with an abil­ity to find a home in the small­est space, and then to shoot up­wards sev­eral feet to dis­play its mag­nif­i­cent flower spike.

It loves semi-shady spots, de­cid­u­ous wood­land ar­eas and clear­ings in conifer forests, but it will hap­pily find a home on sunny road­side verges where many lo­cal author­i­ties have dis­pensed with spray­ing her­bi­cides, and even in a crack in a wall.

Bees love the fox­glove’s pollen; in fact, bees are far and away the ma­jor pol­li­na­tors of the plant whose shape pro­vides the ideal land­ing-plat­form for the in­sect.

And it has been cal­cu­lated that just a sin­gle fox­glove can pro­duce more than one mil­lion seeds – which is another rea­son why the plant is so suc­cess­ful.

Look upon them as a free gift, and if they’re in the wrong place, move them; they don’t mind be­ing trans­ferred to a more suit­able site, just as long as they get the right grow­ing con­di­tions and are wa­tered well to held them re-es­tab­lish.

Just about ev­ery­one likes (or at least recog­nises) a fox­glove; it’s an im­age of what we’d like to think of as the per­fect Bri­tish sum­mer – warm days filled the sound of birds and bees.

As for its com­mon name – the shape of its flow­ers re­minded peo­ple of the fin­gers of a glove and it was chris­tened “folks­glove” be­cause of its lik­ing for wood­land clear­ings where “the good folk”, or fairies, were be­lieved to live. This evolved to the fox­glove we have to­day.

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