July 8, 2010

Chocolate Bells (Alberta, where ya been?)

I planted a foxglove called Digitalis parviflora 'Milk Chocolate', thinking it would have deep red or dark wine flowers like so many chocolate colored plants do.  There are web sites and books devoted to growing plants with chocolate foliage and blooms, but all of them really look wine red or brownish purple or sometimes black.

I was surprised when it turned out these foxglove spires really were brown, exactly the color of rich milk chocolate.

They're not faded brown, and they don't look like they were some other color but have gone by; instead they look kind of shiny and waxy, like fresh little chocolate bells about to melt in the bright sunshine.

It's very strange to have a highly poisonous plant (all parts of foxgloves are toxic) referred to as a candy bar.  I don't know if I like that.  But it is spot on descriptive.

I have them in front of a stand of coreopsis, and the bright yellow floppy forms work well with the stiffly upright brown flowers.  But that was a happy accident, I didn't really plan it.

But I should have known that the yellow and deep brown would be a good combination; after all, nature thought that up all on her own:

For years, when Eric Clapton says "Chuck Leavell" on Unplugged, I heard him say "Chocolate Bell", and I still do.  It's at the very end.   Whenever I walk in my garden, among my chocolate bells, I hum Alberta Alberta.  

Where ya been so long?


  1. Chocolate makes me think of food, which is a very odd combo with a poisonous plant, lovely tho!

  2. Chocolate makes me think of food, which is a very odd combo with a poisonous plant, lovely tho!

  3. Ah, Eric Clapton. :)

    Great combination with the coreopsis. I love that you didn't plan it, Laurrie!

  4. I have just started some seed of this and I look forward to seeing them in a couple of years. It is great to see what they look like in your garden - and you have got a fantastic combo with the coreopsis

  5. Deborah, I agree, a poisonous plant and a food name aren't a very good combo.

    Meredith, the accidental designs are the best ones in my garden.

    Karen, I hope you like your chocolate foxgloves when they come in. They are very structured, almost stiff looking, and add a real upright form.

  6. What an interesting plant. I would love to give it to my sister who loves chocolate. I will be humming Alberta the rest of the day. :)

  7. Very cool plant, I like the color of those flowers. I've always wanted a chocolate-themed garden and wouldn't those be perfect.

  8. Lisa: I'm glad I got you humming!

    Sweet bay, I'd love to see a chocolate themed garden, there are so many possibilities.

  9. Laurrie, I love your picture of such healthy looking chocolate foxgloves. Chocolate Digitalis - what a dangerous sounding combo, but it is about beauty. I have chocolate mint and it does smell like chocolae mint. G


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