Browsing Tag

Digitalis purpurea

Vegetable Garden

One little “weed”

May 16, 2012

I referred to my one little “weed” in my last video blog but if you missed it, here it is…

Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea

Any ideas? I hadn’t a clue what it was when I first spotted it growing in my ‘roots’ bed. It was certainly nothing I’d ever planted or seen growing in my veg beds before.

I was intrigued – what could this stray little plant be? I didn’t pull it out as I had been doing all morning with the creeping buttercups and dandelions.

I let it be until it had been identified as a friend or foe.

Foxglove - Digitalis purpurea leavesI racked my brain – what had been growing in this patch in previous years? Nothing we’d ever planted of that I was certain. So I headed indoors with a cup of tea, fired up the PC and spent a half hour or so googling “weed” images but came up a blank. Hmmm dilemma, what to do now? Thank goodness for friendly gardeners – I sent off a picture to a gardening guru friend for some professional help – they were thrown too given it’s location. However, a couple of days later a simple text reply came back and I laughed, as no doubt they had too…

Haha! How could I have missed it? My little ‘weed’ was none other than a foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)! These biannual plants are currently popping up all around our hedgerows but I hadn’t dreamed of or expected to find one in my veg patch and it had me completely thrown.

Foxglove flower

Image courtesy of

Foxgloves are such pretty plants, the bees love them and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said

“What is a Weed? A plant who’s virtues have never been discovered”

Well in this case the foxglove’s virtues have most definitely been discovered – both ornamental and medicinally. I have no plans to use it for the later – extracts from it are used to treat heart conditions making it toxic to those of us who aren’t chemists. I love to see flowers growing in vegetable gardens though – from nasturtiums to marigolds, Calendula to borage. They attract insects and give vegetable gardens character and colour. My foxglove will be just another addition – albeit a stunning one.

“A weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place”

So as I’ve decided that all the stray foxgloves are staying exactly where nature intended them to be, that now puts them firmly in the flower category …

Do you have a favourite flower growing in your garden that others might classify as a weed?