Foxgloves and Mary Webb

Hi folks! I hope this finds you well and not melting in the heat like me — (hence my sporadic posts during these sizzling days of summer…)

I just wanted to share my lovely photo of this beautiful foxglove…

The scientific name for this flower is the Latin digitalis, meaning ‘finger’. The old German vernacular name that harks back to the 16th century is Fingerhut, translating literally as ‘finger hat’, though actually meaning ‘thimble’. The Olde English name, foxes glofa/e echoes the folk myth that foxes actually wore gloves on their paws so they could move silently when hunting their prey! Another more intimidating name for this deadly flower was ‘witch’s glove’.

Later names that emerged in the 19th century name were ‘folks’ glove’, where ‘folk’ means fairy and ‘foxes-glew’, meaning ‘fairy music’.

Foxgloves were also grown in medieval gardens and the flowers were dedicated to the Virgin Mary — here they were called ‘Our Lady’s Gloves’.

Apart from being very pretty, the flowers are also used for drug preparations that contain cardiac glycosides. The plant is very toxic to humans and other animals, and consumption can even lead to death. (I think this was one of the favourite toxins that wives would use in the olden days, before the advent of forensic science, to gradually poison problematic husbands!)

As to the symbolism of the foxgloves, they represent a whole host of themes ranging from pride, energy, magic, ambition, insincerity, intuition and creativity, to productivity, communication, cooperation, and confidence too (so that’s quite a load, isn’t it?!)

And last but not least, here’s a poem written by Mary Webb about the Foxglove:-

Foxgloves

The foxglove bells, with lolling tongue,
Will not reveal what peals were rung
In Faery, in Faery,
A thousand ages gone.
All the golden clappers hang
As if but now the changes rang;
Only from the mottled throat
Never any echoes float.
Quite forgotten, in the wood,
Pale, crowded steeples rise;
All the time that they have stood
None has heard their melodies.
Deep, deep in wizardry
All the foxglove belfries stand.
Should they startle over the land,
None would know what bells they be.
Never any wind can ring them,
Nor the great black bees that swing them–
Every crimson bell, down-slanted,
Is so utterly enchanted

Mary Webb
(25 March 1881, Shropshire – 8 October 1927)

Mary Gladys Webb  was an English romantic novelist and poet of the early 20th century, whose work is set chiefly in the Shropshire countryside and among Shropshire characters and people whom she knew. Many of her books were dramatised, including Precious Bane (one of my favourite books!). For a fuller biography, see this Mary Webb Society link

And to finish with, here’s another photo of my cat chilling out in the 43° C temperatures amidst the aloe vera plant.

Well, that’s all for now — thanks for visiting, take care! xxx