Satchels and foxgloves in Scarborough

We have been teaching beside the seaside in Scarborough, doing a two-day leather satchel workshop with North Yorkshire Art School We took the camper van up into the depths of the countryside inland and woke up with the light, the morning wake up songs from the birds around us and the sound of bees noisily gathering nectar and pollen from the fine stand of foxgloves next to us. It’s one of the sweetest sights in nature, watching the stripey bum of a bumble bee trying to reverse its ponderous way out of a foxglove flower. The tall, tower like flower spikes are in full bloom about now and normally last until September. Not only bumble bees, but honey bees and moths enjoy their nectar too.

Their cunning strategy is to lure the insects inside the flowers so that they get covered in pollen and transmit it to the next plant. Hence the huge groups of purple and white that populate Britain and Ireland, they love edges and disturbed land. We have two native specie; in some places called ‘folksglove’ because of their association with fairies. It was also thought that foxes used the flowers to keep the dew of their paws! Foxes, in Norse mythology wore the flowers around their necks as a spell of protection against hunters and hounds.

Their latin name ‘digitalis porpurea’ means finger like and sometimes it’s too tempting to put a flower on the end of a finger like a thimble, however so powerful are the toxins in the foxglove that even by touching the plant, our heart rate is raised. The drug that is made from the plant is called ‘digitalin’ and is used for heart complaints.

Please take a look at our other Instagram account @catherineedwardsworkshops, where we will be promoting forthcoming workshops and events and giving you an insight into what we have been working on each week.


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