Many thanks to GardenDrum, which inadvertently answered a lurking plant identification problem I had.

It’s curious, in this day and age of information accessibility, how hard it can be to identify unknown plants.  If you don’t have someone to ask, there’s nowhere else to turn.  One day we’ll have the horticultural equivalent of Shazam (where your phone can listen to, and identify a song), but meanwhile….

Anyhow, the question arose at Chelsea when I spotted – from a distance, as it was the most conspicuous plant for miles – the above foxglove.

The designer of the garden just called it Digitalis ‘Apricot’.  He told me that the plants he’d had contract grown for his garden had failed to flower, so he’d had to fly these in the day before the Chelsea opening – from Spain, if I remember rightly.


The name he gave it seemed unlikely.  The foliage looked so much more leathery than most of the foxgloves I’ve known and grown, and the colour was so complex that it suggested hybrid origin.

Then GardenDrum posted a piece in its excellent ‘News’ section (excellent, given the number of times I’ve seen stuff there that I can’t imagine accessing in any other way) on the sellout through the UK and the USA of the recently released Digiplexis.  Despite the different colouring (check out the other colours here), this was clearly my plant, whose full name is Digiplexis Illumination Apricot.

One of the parents - Isoplexis - at Hidcote Manor
One of the parents – Isoplexis – at Hidcote Manor

It turns out that it is a hybrid, between the biennial Digitalis and the shrubby (but unfortunately frost-tender) Isoplexis.  The moment you hear that, it makes sense.  Everything about it is intermediate, from colouring through to flower form.

Can’t wait for it to get here, though it’ll be yet another plant I’ll have to overwinter indoors.


The other curious thing, while I’m revisiting Chelsea, is that this caramel/biscuit/rust colouring was surprisingly evident in several gardens, and in several different plants, from Verbascums (below – in which this colour has appeared for several years), to Geums (which were perhaps more apricotty) to the new Digiplexis.

I confess I’m a complete sucker for the colour. I just can’t get enough of it.



  1. Sounds like you’ll need to build an extension on the laundry for more plant over-wintering! I have Isoplexis growing and flowering in my Sydney garden but the Digiplexis sounds like it needs colder nights (< 10 Celsius) to get it to repeat flower than we usually have. Of course this winter would have been perfect with lots of nights around 6-8 degrees.
    I am also smitten with this burnt apricot colour. It works so beautifully with many cooler colours, like blues, purples and burgundy but I find I also like it with white, and dark red too.

  2. I find those tones appealing as well. For some months I have been getting lots of pleasure from a pot of calibrochia in similar tones with a red eye. The colour combo allows it to tone in with biscuit/apricot/orange or various reds. Also, I stumbled upon interesting pictures of Digitalis spectrum on this site: http://frustratedgardener.com/category/plant-portraits/
    I very much enjoy your blogs and always read the inside back cover of Gardening Australia first.

    1. So with you on that Calibrochoa. I’ve been dying to use it, but I’d have to replace it every spring, and so far I’ve never seen it at the bargain prices I’d need in order to allow that..

  3. I read somewhere that Isoplexis had been reclassified into the genus Digitalis, a move which I was sad about as i think it deserves it’s own Genus.

    1. I agree that it seems a different genus is warranted. Or at least that’s how it would go if classification was based on intuition.
      On the other hand, I’ll be glad not to have to recall that name. For some reason Isoplexis is one of those names that dives for cover the moment I need access to it. It’s something about that ‘x’, and its placement in the word.
      There’s only one other word in my vocab that is more elusive. I’m embarrassed to admit, but I had to go and google ‘word for putting things off’. It’s really stupid that while the word ‘procrastination’ (thanks Google) has been a part of my vocab for 35 years or so, my in-brain search mechanism can never, ever access that file when it needs it.
      The search engines are similarly confounded when it comes to Isoplexis. It’s not the same as forgetting the name. It’s right there in front of me, but I just can’t open the file.
      So I won’t be unhappy with the lumping into Digitalis..

  4. Mmmm – so true – those tones are completely gaze-worthy. I am always drawn to softer tones of orange, especially flowers with graduations of colour, from gold to orange and rusty or brick red. I think the Digiplexis is a case in point. For me, it has something to do with the simulation of the light and glowing tones of a sunset that draws me in. Combine such a flower, say Hedychium or a sunset-toned Echinacea with back-lighting from fading afternoon sun and you have a garden gaga moment. You inspired me to delve into my old copy of Christopher Lloyd’s ‘Colour for Adventurous Gardeners’, where he describes orange as ‘challenging’, but soft orange as ‘a charming colour and not in the least frightening’. Lots to enjoy in the orange chapter. Isoplexis is also a fantastic plant and I have to confess that years ago I committed that guiltiest of garden sins – buying it as tube-stock and failing to plant it. I’m sure no one else would do such a thing. It’s available again at Diggers, so I might need to give it a second chance…

  5. Digiplexus has indeed taken the US by storm. I’ll confess to buying D. ‘Illumination Flame’ as one of my two “annual” garden additions these past two summers. Be warned, though: despite tag info and press here, it is most emphatically not hardy in my Portland, Oregon, Z8 garden.
    I have an app for the iPhone called “Like That Garden”, that helps identify unknown plants using a photo of the plant and the vast image bank of the internet. While it struggles with very unusual plants, it has been successful at ID-ing some shrubs and natives. But there’s still a lot of development needed, I think.

  6. Just thought of you Michael when I was scrolling down through an email from a wholesale grower – Digiplexis is now available in Melbourne! Only two colours so far: ‘Illumination Raspberry’ and ‘Illumination Flame’ with more to come, but not the lovely Apricot…yet. Keen to check them out in the flesh and see how they perform.

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