Flowering profusely in my garden right now is the magnificent foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). It’s tall spires of pink and purple “tubular bells” are a great source of nectar and pollen for insects , especially for the bumble bees currently visiting my garden. As you can see from the photos and video below, the flowers are a really beautiful addition to my wildlife garden. They are equally as happy in the shade as they are in the sun and can flower from June right through until September. Although they are biannuals (they grow leaves in their first year and then flower and die in their second year) they do self seed and spread around. In other words, once you have them, you will always have them! Which is great news for your visiting bees!
Foxgloves have adapted their flowers to be pollinated by bees, especially bumble bees and long-tongued bees such as the common carder bee. The plant’s bright flowers and spotted lip attracts the bees and the lower lip of the flower provides a little “runway” which the insect is able to land on before climbing up in to the tubular flower. During this process the bee will dislodge pollen and then transfer it to another plant. Its not just the flowers which helps bees though. This plant also provides food for the caterpillars of the Foxglove Pug Moth , the Large Yellow Underwing and the Frosted Orange Moth
All parts of the foxglove are poisonous however (it contains a chemical which can be used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure) and so caution needs to be taken about where (or even if) you grow them if you have very young children and pets around. With that one very important caveat in mind, they can still be a fantastic flower to have in any wildlife friendly garden .
Above. A short video showing just how popular the foxglove flowers are with bumble bees in my garden right now