Monday, June 1, 2020

Corncockle and Vampires

Yesterday I noticed a new flower in the big pot that holds our passionflower vine. I'd never seen anything like it elsewhere in the garden or even out in the wild. I thought perhaps it was a garden escapee from a neighbor.

But no! It's a corncockle, which used to be a common wildflower in Britain's wheat and cornfields but has become quite rare here with more intensive agriculture. In fact it was thought to be extinct in the UK until one was found in 2014. (That article plays up its poisonous properties, but apparently it's no more poisonous than a foxglove. You just can't eat it. Easy enough!)

So how did we get it? Beats me. Apparently it's occasionally included in wildflower seed mixes, and years ago we did scatter a seed mix in that pot. But I mean years ago -- 2015, to be exact. And no corncockles appeared immediately from that mix. It could have been in there and just remained dormant until now, I suppose, but I wonder if -- like the borage -- it came to us naturally, perhaps via some bird. (Or did the borage come from that seed mix too? Hmmm...)

When this one fades I'll collect the seeds and put them in our wildflower patch. Maybe we'll get more in coming years. Unless a second plant is needed for pollination -- that might be too much to hope for.

The pelargonium from the plant hospital has leafed out and given us flowers -- modest little pink things with a touch of lipstick-red. It's looking much better these days.

Can you stand hearing any more about foxgloves? You've already seen photos of ours. Well, you may remember that I handed out more than 100 seedlings last year to friends and co-workers. People have been sending me updates on some of those, and it's nice to see that the foxgloves not only stayed alive for them but bloomed as well.

Blog reader Frances, in Harpenden, sent along this photo of her garden, with foxgloves from our seeds in full flower...

...and my co-worker Colin sent this one. You can see the foxgloves upper left.

My co-worker Bambi wins the prize for the tallest foxglove, with a seedling that became this monster. I wasn't sure a foxglove would thrive in a pot but I'm glad to see it did!

In other news, a few days ago, Dave's uncle died of a stroke back in Michigan. It was quite a surprise as he was considerably younger than Dave's father, but he'd had a stroke before. Well, there was a gathering yesterday at the funeral home, and of course Dave was unable to attend in person. But his sister connected us via Facetime, so we were able to see the family and participate remotely. Because of coronavirus and the need for distancing only ten people could enter at a time, and everyone else waited in the parking lot, which is where we chatted with them. It was good to see them all, though it certainly would have been nicer under better circumstances. Another family event given a peculiar twist by Covid-19.

Speaking of peculiar, I got the strangest spam on my blog yesterday. I deleted it pretty quickly, but I have to mention it because it came from a guy named "Lord Mark" who was offering to turn me into a vampire! "Are you tired of being human?" his comment began. "Do you want to have power and influence over others, to be charming and desirable, to have wealth, health, without delaying in a good human posture and becoming an immortal? If yes, these your chance. It's a world of vampire where life get easier, We have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich, You will assured long life and prosperity, You shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness, Stronger and also very fast, You will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk, This is an opportunity to have the human vampire virus to perform in a good posture. If you are interested contact us on"

Well, I'm glad I wouldn't be restricted to night-walking. That would be a drag. All the same, I think I'll pass on the human vampire virus. I have enough viruses to worry about already.


  1. Our foxgloves have just started flowering...and the lupins are looking good too.
    Seeds can lay dormant for many just takes the right conditions turning up and off they go

  2. I saw that vampire comment! The flowers are so beautiful. What a great surprise. You’d think with a name like corncockle it would easily reproduce itself. So nice to see all the beauty you’ve shared with friends.

  3. Your flowers are a glory and I love that an almost extinct one appeared in your garden. Absolutely amazing.
    So a virus is what creates vampires? Do you suppose it's a virus only found in blood? Too weird.

  4. Yikes Vampires??? Oh so glad that you have deleted that comment... We have enough problems without worrying about Vamps lol.
    Those Foxgloves are so pretty. One of my favorite flowers. Speaking of flowers planted in a pot my friend Kay lost her brother on Memorial Day and I also planted some seeds in a pot for him.
    I am so sorry to hear of Dave's uncle. Please give him my condolences. Hugs to the three of you. Have an awesome day!

  5. I see the color of the foxgloves you gave away had the same range of color of the ones you kept. and how nice that the corncockle popped up. so how exactly does being a vampire make you rich?

  6. My sincerest condolences to Dave for the loss of his Uncle. I'm so glad you both were able to attend the service at least via phone video. Your plants are awesome! Imagine, a rare plant! It will be interesting to see if you can grow more from the seed. Those foxgloves are just beautiful. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

  7. Steve Reed, aka Lord Stephen, the charming, rich, healthy, strong and, yes, speedy vampire. AND he has foxgloves for all takers! What a guy.

  8. When I first moved to the village on Chuckanut , i went for a walk under fences and over undisturbed land & was caught in a thick forest of foxglove taller than my 5'4" self. I had never seen a foxglove before, felt like ALICE, expecting them to burst into song at any moment. They grow readily here, like dandelions.I am surprised that they would be cultivated. Still pretty cold here, usually we have weather similar to yours, but the UK seems to have totally sprung forward.
    I would SO take that vampire offer into consideration about now. Things looking grim in our motherland!

  9. Beautiful flowers and wonderful spreading of the foxglove seeds.
    So sorry to read about Dave's uncle passing away. Condolences to all who loved him.
    That is one crazy spam comment. We keep getting offers in our spam comments to know the true meaning of our names. Who wastes their time with this stuff? I have no idea.

  10. I, too, wonder why people waste time developing these spam posts. I had the vampire one awhile back, and now and getting the one about the true meaning of my name. I hate comment moderation, but sometimes it seems like it's necessary. Nice foxgloves.

  11. GZ: It's amazing how they can stay viable all that time.

    Mitchell: Ha! I know -- that NAME!

    Ms Moon: I think someone's been watching too much Creature Feature!

    Beth: I think planting plants or trees is a great way to memorialize people, don't you?

    Ellen: Yeah, it seems the seeds were pretty consistently apricot, purple and white.

    Edna: That rare plant really blew my mind!

    Catalyst: Who needs that stinkin' vampire virus?! LOL

    Linda Sue: I know foxgloves go nuts up where you are. Kind of like teasels, right? Here they are not only cultivated but hybridized into all kinds of colors and patterns.

    Robin: Thanks for the condolences. I haven't seen that name spam yet. Not that I care what the "true meaning" of my name is! LOL

    Allison: Yeah, I moderate everything on posts older than five days. Spammers keep us on our toes!

  12. Nice to see that the foxglove seeds have survived in so many places. Corncockle is quite an unusual name for such a lovely little bloom.
    Condolences to Dave on his uncle’s passing as it is a difficult time not being able to share this sorrow with family. We also had a family passing last week when Grenville’s aunt died in CT. Any life celebration will be delayed until all can safely gather at some unknown date.