Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Weed in The Garden

Verbascum thapsus

I love this biennial weed and he will always have a place in my garden. He is in fact one of the first plants you see when you come to the main door. The woolly leaves are soft enough to use as a cloth; the sage green coloring is a perfect foil for whites or deep purples; the symmetrical rosettes look stunning year round and the architectural stature, when it prepares to bloom all add up to one attractive plant.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? What do you think?




Woolly sending up his flowering stalk. Once he blooms he will die off, but not before sending forth seeds to create many babies...not all will sprout! But enough that farmers and many gardeners see him as a pest. I will cut the flowering stalk off this year, before it sets seed...I have a first year rosette waiting next to his bigger brother. There are sources in the area for me to find other first year rosettes...which is the only time to move them....I don't have to let the seeds loose on the world.
He resides in my nearly native cedar glade garden, along with Juniperus virginianus ' Grey Owl', Echinacea tennesseensis, Euonymous americanus, Verbena canadensis, Salvia azurea, Hypoxis hirsuta...and a grass that desperately needed sun, in a space that desperately needed the variegated grass...Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'.

Woolly is not a native of Tennessee or the USA...and was probably brought to America by early European settlers. He has successfully naturalized and can be found hanging around ditches, field and wood edges and roadsides.

....and of course, in my garden.


Gail


A flowering weed;
Hearing its name,
I looked anew at it - Teiji

26 comments:

  1. Weeds can be pretty! I spotted a wild flower (weed) growing in my front woods yesterday and just had to snap a picture of it...

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  2. Looks good enough to keep to me.

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  3. skeeter,

    Will you post it?

    Gail

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  4. jean,

    My thoughts exactly, I like it even though others might see it as a noxious weed....;)

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  5. Mulleins are cool plants - don't have any at the moment but I've enjoyed them in the past.

    When I was about nine years old I read Louisa Alcott's Little Men and the part where Naughty Nan talked about doctoring people with mullein leaves made me interested in them. Your post and cool photos are making me interested in them again, Gail!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  6. Annie,

    Those are the words that all gardenbloggers love to hear! Thank you.

    btw, gardengirl sent me a link to a TED talk about mushrooms that is wonderful, very worth spending 20 minutes of listening time.....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY

    Gail

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  7. I will be posting on this mullein a bit later too. I like him very much but you must pull him if he sprouts in cracks of sidewalks because he gets so woody that second year. I was talking of him yesterday at a talk I gave. One of the ladies joked it used to grow around outhouses. Wonder why??? They had to tell me as I was to young and a bit dense. Anyone hesitate to guess?

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  8. Gail, I will slip the picture in at some point...

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  9. Tina,

    It's a favorite for backpackers, too!

    Gail

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  10. skeeter,

    Thanks, can't wait to see it!

    gail

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  11. joan from knoxvilleJune 11, 2008 at 3:24 PM

    Do you think the early settlers were carrying their own toilet paper when they brought this plant here? We all have our favorites!

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  12. joan-That was it! That was what I was told was the reason for having mullein by outhouses-toliet paper! Nice and soft and woolly-like Gail says.

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  13. Joan,

    Don't you use it when you backpack or
    paddle?

    Gail

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  14. Tina,

    It is a favorite tp of backpackers!

    Gail

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  15. Ah, see I did not know this! I always used leaves-making sure not to use poison ivy ones!

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  16. I like Verbascum before they bloom & as they start, but then they start looking so ratty. I love the way the leaves feel, so soft & felty. I can see how it makes a good tp substitute for those out-in-the-woods emergencies.

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  17. Wow did I jump into this post late. It's already descended into TP talk! I've mowed this guy down several times in our yard. It reminds me of lamb's ear with it's fuzzy leaves. I guess it makes a truly green TP.

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  18. What a really cool looking weed. It looks a little bit like my cabbage plant...

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  19. mmd,

    You are so right it does look best before blooming as as it prepares to bloom then it declines...we just pull it out!

    gail

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  20. Dave,

    In grass he would be a weed in the garden he becomes an architectural feature!

    TP, too.

    Gail

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  21. DP,

    I think so too...the rosettes and being symmetrical.

    Gail

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  22. Gail, it looks just llike one we saw at the 'Idea Garden' at the University of Illinois-right down to the stalk. So if they grow it, why not?

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  23. beckie,

    That is fabulous...at the Idea Garden even!

    Gail

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  24. I like its texture. Kind of reminds me of lamb's ear.

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  25. Pam,
    It really does and it feels as soft. Do you have this giant in Texas?

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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