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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

Digitalis ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’: Follow-up to Plant Of The Year Winner

Posted by Graham Rice on 20 Jan 2013 at 03:57 PM

Digitalis 'Illumination Chelsea Gold': New hybrid foxglove. Image ©Thompson & MorganOne of last year’s outstanding new perennials was Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’, the Chelsea Flower Show Plant of The Year for 2012. This unexpected hybrid between our familiar biennial foxglove and a rare perennial relation from the Canary Islands, originally known as Isoplexis canariensis, was deservedly popular around the world. Now it has a sister, a gorgeous yellow-flowered form called ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’.

Like its award-winning predecessor, ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’ reaches about 3ft/90cm in height and branches well. Over its long flowering season from early summer almost to winter, the flowers just keep coming. Each flower is peachy orange in colour, darker on the outside and paler on the inside with a delicate patterning of spots. Bees love it.

Thompson & Morgan, whose ace plant breeder Charles Valin raised this unique plant, say that plants of ‘Illumination Pink’ are hardy down to -15C/5F and ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’ should be as hardy. Though it’s only fair to say that some gardeners have not found ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’ so tough.

This should prove a fine plant for a container in a sunny place, make sure the pot stands on pot feet to ensure good drainage, and you only need to dead head occasionally to improve the look of the plant.

And by the way: although Isoplexis canariensis was not considered a member of the genus Digitalis when Charles Valin began his development of these plants, partly as a result of his work botanists now consider Isoplexis canariensis to be a Digitalis, and it’s known as Digitalis canariensis.

You can order plants of Digitalis ‘Illumination Chelsea Gold’ from Thompson & Morgan.



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