It was Great Auntie Foxy Higgledy, the Edwardian explorer, who first discovered Foxgloves. Auntie Foxy had blazed a trail across the hitherto uncharted Arctic tundra that lay to the south west of Cambridgeshire. She then entered into the lost and ancient city of Milton Keynes, the ruins of which were overrun with the strange flowers that she named ‘Foxgloves’. Three months later after giving a very well received talk at the National Geographic Society, Foxgloves became the must have flower of the moment and can now be found in gardens all over our Sceptred Isle.
My humble Biennial patch is only eight metres by one metre this year. I shall be extending it later in the season. But even from a relatively small bed I can harvest heaps of flowers. Foxgloves are not the most productive of the biennials…after harvesting the main stem you will however usually get four or more smaller spikes from the base. Sweet Williams grow alongside my Foxgloves….these plants are flower making factories…they just keep on pumping out blooms for months…..they more than make up for the more scanty efforts of the Foxys.
I harvest my Foxgloves when the first flowers are opening…the others will open steadily as the days go on….don’t harvest them too early or they will struggle to open.
Foxglove Sowing Tips.
*I sow my Foxgloves on mid summer’s day…the summer solstice…usually around the 22nd June…not because I’m a hippy but because it’s easy to remember. Seeds can happily be sown from June through July…and I know growers who are sow through August with seemingly few problems.
*My own view is that Foxgloves are best sown into 3 inch square pots…don’t cover the seed…just press them into your compost…they need light to germinate.
*Foxglove seeds do not need excessive heat to germinate…they’re native plants…I leave my seed trays outside…out of the way….and let them get one with it.
*Plant your seedlings to a spacing of about a foot apart in early September…preferably in a bed into which you have dug some good old, home made compost.
Great Great Grandfather Wilfred Higgledy was a non conformist cement maker, which was very time consuming in the 1850’s but it didn’t prevent him from growing the most talked about Hesperis in Lancashire. At the time Burnley was the famed Hesperis centre of northern Europe, all the top Hesperis growers congregated in that region….and Wilf was the king of them all. Today, in the Higgledy Garden we still grow Hesperis matronalis using exactly the same methods as Wilfred Higgledy used back then….and though we are no longer the toast of Burnley, we can still walk the walk, and our Hesperis is a Hesperis to be reckoned with.
Wilfred Higgledy’s Top Tips For Growing Hesperis From Seed:
*Now it must be remembered that Hesperis are biennial and as such will flower in the second year of growing….they will usually happily self seed…so you will have flowers every year in a naturalised bed from the second year of sowing them.
*Wilfred sowed his Hesperis matronalis seed on the summer solstice. (usually 21st June) However some growers sow from late May and as late as August.
*Sow folk like to sow in a seed bed…then transplant the plants in the Autumn. Wilfred sowed into 3 inch square pots and then planted them out in early September.
*Wilf planted out to a hand-span apart….I don’t know if he had big hands though….ten inches to a foot apart is about right.
*Plants are happy in shade or full sun.
Don’t be put off by the fact that biennials don’t flower until the second year…they flower VERY early…from early May and they are big and floriferous plants that will give you heaps of flowers before even your Autumn sown annuals are starting to pull their weight. It’s also worth leaving some plants in over winter as they are actually short lived perennials and will make it through most winters.
I am rebuilding the Higgledy Garden web site and shop….for the next week or two you may find that some of the links in the blog posts don’t work…rest assured the Higgledy Elves are working tirelessly to rectify this.
The shop is up and running…feel free to spend spend spend! 😉
The general design as you see it now is not the final chosen design but will keep us operational until we launch the new site.
This is an end of season sale of annual flower seeds….get these sown by the end of the month and all will be dandy. I have an abundance of these seeds and am happy to let them go at half price to the splendid and refined folk who are my customers! NB Most of these seeds are Hardy annuals and as such can also be sown in late August/September for a flowering next spring.
*The collection is FREE of any shipping/delivery costs.
This is a plentiful amount of seeds…why not go Dutch with a chum…there’s enough for two good sized flower patches…
The varieties included are…
*Nigella ‘Persian Jewels’
*Eschscholzia ‘Orange King’
*Nicotiana ‘White Trumpets’
*Scabiosa ‘Ping Pong’
*Daucus Carota (Actually this will behave as a biennial if sown in May…)
*Salvia ‘Blue Monday’
*Sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’
This offer will run until the end of the month or until I run out of stock…whichever comes sooner.
Granny Zeltec-Higgledy was a stunt woman in the early silent movies…she would jump blindfolded between steam trains whilst juggling King Cobras…hang on to the underside of hot air balloon baskets by her little toes as the balloon sailed high across the Thames (which historians amongst you will know was full of piranhas in the 1920’s)….she would be thrown over waterfalls, high on Absinthe, tied to a brace of bewildered sea lions….what a woman….
It was Zeltec-Higgledy who first brought Zinnias over from Mexico…she had fallen in love with them on a visit to that fine country in the summer of 1926. After a particularly perilous stunt involving a Mariachi band, a petrol soaked sombrero and fifteen packets of Swan Vestas…my famous Gran came to rest (a little toasted) in a bank of gloriously coloured Zinnia. The zesty octogenarian knew at once that these wonderful flowers should have a place in the Higgledy cutting gardens back in Blighty….and diligently commenced collecting some seeds to travel back home with.
Zeltec arrived back on the shores of our Sceptred Isle with four varieties of Zinnia. It is these four varieties of Zinnias which we grow to this very day in our mobile ancestral gardens.
Granny Zeltec’s Top Tips For Growing Zinnia From Seed.
*Although it is possible to start Zinnias off in pots it is probably best avoided….they loath root disturbance…however…fibre pots can help to lessen this woe.
*Zinnias are also not fond of frost…not fond one little bit… At Higgledy we sow after the frosts have finished. As it happens we are sowing tomorrow which is a bit of a gamble but down here in Cornwall we have probably seen the last frost…the ten day forecast is in agreement. HOWEVER you will have more success if you leave sowing until the end of May…think more Acapulco…less Wigan.
*Sow seeds leaving a gap of four or five inches between plants…later thin plants to ten inches apart. Let them get on with it.
The Higgledy Zinnias are: ‘Envy’, ‘Mammoth’, ‘Cactus’ and ‘Persian Carpet’…all of these can be found in the Higgledy Garden Seed Shop.