Double daylily of the roadside
The catbird nest outside our window

Success (and failure) with new cut flowers

Digitalis 'Illumination' in hand-tied bouquet. Image ©Tracey MathiesonI’ve always been interested in flowers for cutting that are new, or a little out of the ordinary. So every now and then I turn up at Foxtail Lilly (the home-grown cut flower shop with its vintage home accessories, run by my friend Tracey Mathieson) with a few plants for her to try. Sometimes she looks at me a little doubtfully, sometimes she’s instantly enthused.

Plants of the all-green Dianthus ‘Green Trick’ were very favorably received last spring and later in the year I was pleased to pass on a few plants of that lovely new hybrid foxglove Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’ for her to try as cut flowers – and see if they got through the winter.

First, the good news. Three groups of Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’, in different parts of her garden, all came through the winter with no losses and they were just coming into flower for her very successful National Gardens Scheme open day in June (right, click to enlarge).

Later, Tracey made up some hand tied bouquets (above, click to enlarge) and they lasted well through five of the hottest days of the summer (no air conditioning) “Well, in this heat they lasted five days!! So, possibly much longer, if cooler! They stayed quite upright too!!” So many exclamation marks – she really liked them. Digitalis 'Illumination-Pink' seen through Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' at Foxtaill Lilly. Image ©

I also took her a few plants of the recently introduced all-green coneflower, Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ (below, click to enlarge). Unfortunately, they were a big disappointment. They looked great when I took them round, in flower, last summer but none of the three plants survived the winter in her cutting garden. So that was that. Perhaps with extra crisp drainage…? We’ve had the same problem with ‘Green Envy’, with its green-tipped petals – gone. Good drainage in winter is definitely the key.

British gardeners can order a collection of all three Illumination foxgloves - ‘Illumination Pink’ and ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’ and ‘Illumination Raspberry’ - from QVC. They will be available in North America soon. If anyone spots a US mail order supplier, please let me know.

British gardeners can order plants of Dianthus ‘Green Trick’ from Thompson & Morgan, the similar ‘Green Ball’ should be available in North America soon.

American gardeners can order plants of Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ and Echinacea ‘Green Envy’ from Great Garden Plants. British gardeners can order from The Walled Garden Nursery.

For more on Foxtail Lilly take a look at their website or their Facebook page.
Echinacea 'Green Jewel'. Image ©


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I too love growing cut flowers and never would have given a second thought to Foxglove as a suitable candidate, in fact I have to admit I still imagine their colours to be limited to the purple or white ones you see growing wild (not much to my taste either).
I am intrigued by the pink one you speak of though and may just have to consider this plant that I have hitherto rebuffed.
Now as for that Green Echinacea, I am afraid I don not 'get' green flowers lol. I have Pink Echinacea but as much as the green flower is pretty I don't think I would grow it.
A very interesting post, thank you.

Graham Rice

Thanks, Linda... This foxglove is unusual in being a hybrid between the familiar purple flowered species, and a partly shrubby type with orange flowers. And it's one of the best bee plants I've ever seen. More here:

Tracey Mathieson

I think the Foxgloves are now one of my top 10 plants!!! I can get them wholesale now and I sold out of everyone!!

Graham Rice

What kind can you get wholesale, Tracey? And they're easy enough to grow, of course - some new and very prolific varieties have appeared recently.

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