To punctuate these forms I need tall, elegant spires - foxgloves do the job beautifully, but they don't always come back - or at least not in the same places, being biennials, and it is a lot of work really, growing them on each year to plant out. With results like this photograph from three years ago it seems worth it - but they only look like this maybe one year in three.
I am thinking of trying delphiniums instead. Risky, here in the wet and sluggy west of Scotland, but I am about to send for '36 plus 6 free' plug plants (why don't they just say 42?) to give them a try. You seldom see them in gardens here - there may be a good reason for this! - but I have heard of one gardener who succeeds with them, so will seek her out for advice. I think provided I am vigilant early in the season they may do well, and rather than diminish each year, as the foxgloves seem to do, they should increase and make bigger, more slug resistant clumps.
A five year old boy I know called them 'boxing gloves' and when he was gently corrected stamped his little foot and said 'Oh no, I wanted them to be boxing gloves!' The individual flowers are sometimes more elegantly referred to as 'fairies' thimbles'. Delphiniums, though wonderful, don't taper so elegantly at the top as the foxglove (in fact the tops look more like boxing gloves! Well Andrew will love them.)
Any growing tips welcome....