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Digitalis ambigua 'Cream Bell'

Perennial Foxglove aka 'Créme Belle'

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Digitalis ambigua 'Cream Bell'

Perennial Foxglove aka 'Créme Belle'

Availability: In stock

Packet Size:20mg
Average Seed Count:100 Seeds


There are not many yellow flowering foxglove species or varieties, and as they are so rare each one is joyfully celebrated. Digitalis ambigua 'Cream Bell' is a simply heavenly variety. Multiple upright spires of gorgeous, soft vanilla-cream bells are produced in late spring. Extremely hardy to an astounding minus 34°C, this truly perennial variety is one of the toughest and best performing of all the foxgloves.

Introduced in 2014, the correct name of this variety is 'Creme Bell' but is often misspelled, mostly deliberately, in a French way 'Créme Belle' (meaning Lovely Cream), and even though it is a mistake it fits nonetheless. The soft vanilla coloured flowers really do look like they have been formed from the sweetest cream or perhaps or a small scoop of lemon sorbet.
They are wide funnel-shaped and decorated with deep orange and brown specs in the throat. Long, loose, and more or less one-sided (secund) spikes of largish flowers, the individual flowers are well spaced and open one by one up along the stem from June until midsummer.

Digitalis ambigua originally hails from Southern Europe through to Asia, an uncommon plant from open woodland and clearings of the Alps and Pyrenees. As a consequence it is tolerant of more sun than other species, however it will be perfectly happy in shade. This is a plant that has a long history of cultivation having been originally introduced into Britain from Greece in 1596, this new variety boasts uniform and compact growth and the strong plants do not need staking.
'Cream Bell' grows 40 to 50cm (16 to 20in) tall and is a good choice for the border or woodland garden. Once established this beauty will produce multiple flower heads and can be semi-evergreen in cooler climates. It is happy in most soils as long as they don't get water-logged in winter.
They are perfect for providing contrast and for lighting up an area in partial or full shade. In a mixed border the lovely soft shade allows this plant to blend with almost anything in the garden. Cut back after flowering will encourage fresh growth from the crown. The flowers are excellent for cutting and, as with all foxgloves they are highly attractive to bees.

  • Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
    Digitalis ambigua 'Cream Bell' has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter to spring or sow directly outdoors in late summer to autumn
Sow seeds on the surface of a peaty soil. Do not cover or bury seeds as the seed needs light to germinate, just press seeds lightly into the earth. Keep seed in constant moisture (not wet) they will usually germinate in 2 to 4 weeks at around 20°C (68°F).

Sowing Indoors:
Sow in late winter to spring Sow seed thinly in trays of compost and place in a cold frame or greenhouse. Once germination occurs keep in cooler conditions. Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out once all risk of frost has gone. Transplant to the flowering position planting 30cm (12in) apart.

Sowing Direct:
Sow in late summer to autumn directly in a well prepared bed. Sow very thinly in drills 30cm (12in) apart. Firm down. Keep the plants moist and free of weeds. Thin out the seedlings to 15cm (6in) apart when large enough to handle.

The plants establish and grow leaves in the first year, it will send up large spikes, then flower and produce seeds in the second. As a rule, they are hardy plants and can cope with any soil unless it is very wet or very dry. They are fairly disease resistant, although the leaves may suffer slightly from powdery mildew if the summer is hot and humid.
If you cut the stalk down before it goes to seed, it will generally rebloom and, if you wish, you can reseed from the second showing. Self-sown seedlings producing different shifting, untutored patterns of flowers each year, they can be easily transplanted to the location you want them to bloom. They are best transplanted when the leaves are about 10cm long. Make sure the newly moved plants are watered very well to help them establish.

Saving seed:
Cover the flowerspikes with paper bags (such as those used by bakers to wrap baguettes) to collect the seeds. When the seedheads have dried, shake them to remove the seed and scatter them where you want them to grow.

Digitalis is a source of digitalin used in cardiac medicine, it slows the heart. The whole foxglove plant is toxic, no part is edible and if eaten it will cause severe discomfort, in a child or small animal it could cause death. Fortunately it tastes very bitter and causes irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth, actually causing pain and swelling. It also causes diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, so if it does get in, it soon comes out!
Because of these factors, it is not really a problem for wildlife, human or otherwise. However if you ever find a child who has been around this plant with symptoms of oral irritation, grab a stem or two and get to the emergency room! Wear gloves when handling plants or seeds, plant only where children or animals will not have access.

Plant Uses:
Shade/Woodland Garden. Cottage/Informal Garden, Cut Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Wildflower Gardens or Wildlife Gardens

Other Uses:
If foxgloves are grown near most plants they will stimulate growth and help to resist disease and if grown near apples, potatoes and tomatoes their storage qualities will he greatly improved. Foxgloves in a flower arrangement make all the other flowers last longer - if you do not want the actual flowers in the vase make some foxglove tea from the stems or blossoms and add to the water.

Digitalis ambigua originally hails from Southern Europe through to Asia. This is a plant that has a long history of cultivation having been originally introduced into Britain from Greece in 1596.
This uncommon plant from open woodland and clearings of the Alps and Pyrenees, with large, narrow-triangular leaves and long, loose, more or less one-sided (secund) spikes of largish flowers, pale yellow outside and cream netted maroon inside. Extremely hardy, plants are perennials and can live several years before dying out.
The genus Digitalis was traditionally placed in the figwort family, Scrophulariaceae, but phylogenetic research led taxonomists to move it to the Veronicaceae in 2001. More recent phylogenetic work has placed it in the much enlarged family Plantaginaceae.

The name Digitalis is a latinisation of the German name 'fingernut' from the Latin digitus meaning 'a finger'. The flower resembles the finger of a glove. The English name comes not from foxes, but from the phrase 'folks' gloves' because it was thought that the flowers were used as gloves by fairy folk. Another common name is “Fairy Thimbles”

Folklore & Legend:
The flower meaning is insincerity – Folklore tells that bad fairies gave the flowers to the fox to put on his feet to soften his steps whilst hunting ! The foxglove was believed to keep evil at bay if grown in the garden, but it was considered unlucky to bring the blooms inside.

The National Collection:
The National Collection of Digitalis is held at T.A. Baker, The Botanic Nursery, Rookery Nurseries, Cottles Lane, Atworth, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 8HU. Tel: 07850 328 756 for opening hours.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Packet Size 20mg
Average Seed Count 100 Seeds
Seed Form Natural
Seeds per gram 5,000 seeds per gram
Family Plantaginaceae
Genus Digitalis
Species ambigua
Cultivar Cream Bell (Introduced in 2014)
Common Name Perennial Foxglove aka 'Créme Belle'
Other Language Names Fr: Digitalis 'Créme Belle' (Lovely Cream)
Hardiness Hardy Perennial
Hardy Hardy to minus 34°C (-29°F)
Flowers Soft vanilla-cream with deep orange and brown speckles in the throat
Natural Flower Time Late spring to mid summer
Foliage Broadly elliptic to ovate, grass green leaves
Height 40 to 50cm (16 to 20in)
Spread 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in)
Position Partial Shade to Full Sun
Soil Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Dry or Moist
Time to Sow Sow indoors in late winter to spring or sow directly outdoors in late summer to autumn
Germination 2 to 4 weeks at around 20°C (68°F).

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