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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

New foxglove at Chelsea

Posted by Graham Rice on 31 May 2010 at 09:22 PM

Foxglove Digitalis 'Serendipity'. Image ©Carol Sheppard/RHSFor two years running, unusual foxgloves in a similar vein have been stars at the Chelsea Flower Show. This year it was ‘Serendipity’, last year it was ‘Pam’s Split’. Both have flowers which are split into segments instead of formed into a tube. Both are delightful.

The flowers of ‘Serendipity’ are basically pale pink. Each flower is split into four slender waved segments that actually make it look as if there are even more flowers on the plant than there are (and there are many). But the insides of the segments are either boldly speckled or stained in purple and the result is wild blend of colours and patterns.

‘Serendipity’ produces very little seed, perhaps because the bees have far more trouble pollinating it than they would a normal foxglove. It was raised at Hillier Nurseries in Hampshire by Alan Postill and is derived from another of their foxgloves with split flowers, ‘Saltwood Summer’, which they introduced at the show in 2002.

Foxglove Digitalis 'Pam's Split'. Image ©Thompson and MorganI wrote about ‘Pam’s Split’ last year when it was launched on the Scotsdale Garden Centre stand at Chelsea. Raised by Thompson & Morgan Seeds, seed has been available in their current catalogue but now plants are on sale.

Derived from ‘Pam’s Choice’, with white flowers dramatically blotched in crimson, ‘Pam’s Split’ is similar in colouring but each flower is split into four long segments. It’s also shorter than many foxgloves, at just 4ft/1.2m, and has the unusual habit producing a number of vertical stems from the base instead of just one.

Seed of Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Split’ is available from Thompson & Morgan. Plants are also now available for the first time from Hayloft Plants and from Hidden Valley Nursery.

Plants of Digitalis purpurea ‘Serendipity’ are available from Hillier Garden Centres and from other garden centres across the country. It’s also available by mail order from Crocus.

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