From Beltane to Midsummer, the Faery Kingdom celebrates the intense, growing delight of Spring. With the guidance of Thalia, we are exploring the relationships between the Faery realms and flowers.
Although I have warned you that the faeries are not to be trifled with, the fact that you are still reading along tells me that you will not be dissuaded from seeking them. Actually, that is perfectly natural, for in the oldest days they were our allies, and now, more than ever, we need one another to survive and thrive.
So I am sure by now it is clear that we do not order the Good People to show up, but instead, we prepare our homes and gardens to be welcoming, and then we hope for the best. And one of the most inviting flowers we can have in our garden, beloved by the Folk, is the Folks’ Glove – foxglove.
The most widely known foxglove plant, Digitalis purpurea, is an erect biennial that can grow up to five feet tall in ideal conditions. Its big, fuzzy green leaves can get up to 12 inches long. Foxglove blooms from June to September with its beautiful spikes of drooping, bell-shaped flowers. The blossoms can be solid or spotted purple or spotted white, yellow, pink or rose. It is easy to grow, and readily self-seeds.
Foxglove grows wild in woodland clearings and on mountain slopes, since it prefers shade, rich acidic soil, and good drainage with some moisture. It will tolerate full sun, although here in the south, it needs some shade in summer.
This weekend should be an ideal time to add transplants to your garden, as we’ll be under a waxing, nearly Full Moon in the watery sign of Scorpio. Otherwise, if you want to grow your foxgloves from seed, experts recommend sowing them in August. Cover them lightly and keep them moist, and you will get nice, robust plants next spring, with flowers in the second year.
In addition to the many folk names reminding us of its associations with the Fae, foxglove is also known as Virgin’s Gloves, Lady’s Fingers, Lady’s Gloves, Lady’s Thimbles and Gloves of Our Lady. These names, of course, do not refer any mortal ladies, but the Christians’ Divine Mother, Mary. Undoubtedly, though, the foxglove had this association with the Great Mother long before Christianity came to Europe.
For example, ancient mythology associates the flower with Queen of Olympus, Juno (Hera), who learned midwifery from the Goddess Flora. This included how to use foxgloves to induce parthenogenetic pregnancy, that is, pregnancy without a male participant.
Flora placed a foxglove blossom on Her thumb, touched Juno on the tips of Her breasts and belly, and thus Juno became pregnant with Mars (Aries).
Next week, I’ll discuss some more ways to invite the Fae to your home and garden, continuing our journey through this time of flowering and mirth.