Foxglove

The foxglove – first a wood engraving I did about twenty years ago, when I seemed to have time to do this sort of thing! Foxgloves are beatuful plants with mythological connections. This from…

Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore:

In 1870 the naturalist James Britten launched the theory that ‘foxglove’ means ‘glove of the Little Folks’ or fairies, since the flower is called ‘witches’ thimbles’ in North Country dialect, and ‘fairy’s petticoat’ in Cheshire. This pretty whimsey has often been repeated, but reference to the Oxford English Dictionary and the English Dialect Dictionary shows it to be nonsense. The word is attested from AD 1000 onwards, always as ‘fox-’ and never as ‘folks-’; there are several other plants with ‘fox’ in their names; in Norway, the flower is called revbjelde, ‘fox-bell’. Nor is there any instance of ‘folk’ being used without any defining adjective to mean ‘fairies’.

There are few traditions about foxgloves. In north Devon they are said to have sprung up wherever the blood of St Nectan, a locally revered saint, dripped on the ground after he was beheaded; one Staffordshire man stated, in 1917, that ‘I don’t like them, missus; they mean war. Them foxgloves is soldiers.’

And here a foxglove from Hidcote – June 2011, a memory of summer for a snowy day.

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