Linear Linaria

We’re nearing the end of our strawberry harvest for the year. It’s been a extra-fine year for these beauties!

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A delightful, willowy perennial, Linaria purpurea has the unfortunate common name of toadflax. Its erect flowers are light pink to mauve and resemble tiny snapdragons with obvious spurs as they gradually flower from base to tip. One of the varieties in these gardens may well be ‘Canon Went’.

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The slender growth habit of linaria means they fit well into tight spots and add delicate height when mixed with other plants.

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Rarely do they get above three feet tall, but one specimen along our driveway reaches to five feet in height.

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The Linaria genus includes 125 species —  annuals, biennials and perennials — although the majority of species are annuals. At Coppertop they have returned a second year, revealing themselves to be Linaria purpurea, a perennial type of toadflax. For me, they take the place of warmth-loving angelonia, which don’t thrive here. They have a tendency to spread easily from self-seeding, but they also pull out easily due to shallow roots.

The name toadflax has a couple of plausible explanations. One is that the foliage of certain varieties resembles flax and the tiny flowers, tiny toads. The other is that toads are known to hide away beneath linaria in the cool shade created by its tall spires.

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