Garden

Foxgloves from seed to extravaganza

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Our garden is currently awash with blooms and I’m pretty excited so I have to share it with you. Cause you know, that’s the rules. Awash I tell you!

Remember way back last autumn when I took you around with me and collected seeds from some of the flower heads, like the foxgloves, petunias, viola, gazania etc?

Well… you would not believe the number of foxgloves we have now. Good, big, strong foxgloves and the garden just looks fantastic.

Kate and I were talking about it this week and when you think that we started with 3 plants, that we bought from Gardening Scotland last year at £8 each. From those 3 plants, we now have at least 60. Imagine the cost of buying them, at £8 a pop? As you can imagine, we are ecstatic. Obviously I have way more flowers from the seed collection than just foxglove, but for today I just want to chat about this journey in terms of the foxglove, because for me, it was a new thing. I’d never grown foxglove before, so having this type of success if amazing and I’m one excited little puppy about the whole thing. And you know, if I don’t share it with you I might just ‘splode.

And the thing is, it was so super easy. Really… sow ’em and forget about ’em. Well, forget about ’em is a total lie cause I was so hyped at the idea of growing them that I was kinda obsessed and checking on them every day. Multiple times some days. I think I probably shared more photos of them on Instagram than anything else… oops! We even got a bit arty together ;P

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Poor little seed box, waiting patiently

A post shared by Kitchen Garden With Eli & Kate (@kitchengardenwithelikate) on

So let me tell you about it, so that, you know, next year, you can do the same and save a fortune and then be as annoyingly chirpy as me.

Believe it or not, I started collecting the seeds in Autumn last year, man I think it was actually late September. That seems like such a long time ago now, but what really messed with my head at the time was that you sow them then, yup you sow these TINY wee seeds into the cold of coming winter and then leave them to cope with a Scottish winter all on their won. It just sounded crazy to someone who is used to sowing things in spring, once the ground warms up. But, I followed the instructions, well, in usual Eli fashion, I followed them, completely thinking, “there is no way this will work”. So, I had a backup plan.

I missed a lot of seeds because the foxgloves scattered them (self-seeded) into the bed they were planted in. But of the batch I did manage to collect, I sowed half deliberately around the garden and half I treated like I would other flower seeds and I planted them up very deliberately in the greenhouse and gave them the same care and attention I’d give anything in there. I actually didn’t take long for those little seeds to germinate, well in the greenhouse. I didn’t see anything germinating out in the cold earth outside. But in the greenhouse we had little seedlings popping up with a week or so.

And this is where things got a little different. In usual spring planting, I sow, the seeds emerge and within a couple of months, they are strong enough to go out and enjoy their new home – usually granted in summer. The foxglove, however, did a weird stally thing, where the came up and then spent months being quite small plants and not really seeming to get any bigger. I wasn’t worried though, I’d been told that foxgloves were biannual, meaning in the first year they put their time and energy into growing roots and leaves and only in the second year do they develop the flowering spike. So I assumed that was the case. Happy.

Except… come spring, once the weather got a bit nicer, and to be honest, I just needed to make some space in the greenhouse, I went around the garden planting those little guys out. OMG, that’s when things got really interesting. Now I’ve got these little plants that have come on in the greenhouse and then I’ve also got the TINY TINY TINY little seedlings in the beds where they had self-seeded or been helped by me. They were so small, but appearing en masse.

So by the beginning of May, those tiny seedlings were a bit more recognisable – just a bit, but the plants I brought on in the greenhouse grew really quickly and got really strong and tall. They stayed as leaves mostly for quite a while but you can see a clear difference. Look at the pots to the left of this photo ( ok it’s a still from a video so a bit blurry, sorry).

But you can see the little plants poking up over the pots… the ones in the bed are a bit more recognisable now, but still really small.

Well look at the same pots a week later…

Quite a recognisable flower spike there. As you can imagine. At this point I was totally confused and so excited you would not believe. However, check this out… one month on from the video still shown above…..

The pots along the shed aren’t the only place we have these tall , flowering foxgloves from that batch. We also have them along the fence at the side of the garden. But, interestingly, we also planted out some in areas where the little guys didn’t get as much sun and they are further on than the self-seeded plants but not as strong as the ones which got lots of sun.

awwwwww how weak and sorry is this guy?

However, this whole experiment has been really good for me learning about what they need to do well. Mostly because we now have 3 different batches going. So…

  1. the self-seeded directly into the beds and were outside for winter. They are all still tiny so obviously they prefer the care of the greenhouse for overwintering,
  2. the ones from the greenhouse planted out in the full sun,
  3. a few that we planted that don’t get full sun are still a flower spike bit have no blooms yet and are a bit thin and pathetic.

So I think it’s really safe to say that the best thing for us, is to bring them on in the greenhouse, but when they do go out into the garden, they need to be in a good spot, with full sun to encourage them. I will be moving the poorly looking ones to see if that helps, so I’ll update you guys as always.

Lastly, because I was so confused by these biennials flowering, I did a bit of research and woo hooooo, it turns out that some foxgloves are perennials. YES!!!!! So we can expect more next year!!!!! Best news ever!

Obviously the rest of the garden is starting to really look great too, but I was just so excited about the foxgloves that I wanted to share this particular story. Feel free however, to come along on our usual garden update and see the rest….

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