Flower obsession: Verbascums

verbascum portrait

I’ve been known to develop obsessions with particular flowers. One year, it was strawflowers; another year, it was hellebores and lately, it has been Verbascums, also known as Mulleins, in all their varieties.

verbascum thapsis flowers

It started when I left the weedy Verbascum thapsis AKA Common Mullein in my cutting garden, just to watch it grow. And, did it grow! A 7 foot column of yellow flowers and beautiful leaves – a glorious sight that became a topic of conversation in my household and neighborhood.

verbascum thapsis leaves

Verbascum thapsis (the weed) typically grows on rocky, open spots, like train tracks, parking lot edges, etc. and since its not native to North America, some sources list Verbascum thapsis as invasive. Others sources consider it ‘naturalized’ and celebrate its many medicinal uses. I just loved its fuzzy leaves and cheerful flowers buzzing with bees.

verbascum phoenecium in gardenI’ve also been smitten with the smaller, more delicate Verbascum phoenecium, which I’ve grown from seed. Since its a perennial, it took 2 years before flowering, but once it bolted, it was mesmerizing to watch.

purple verbascum phoenecium bottle branch blog 2.jpg The individual flowers open sequentially along the flower spike, from bottom to top: as the flowers below fade and drop off, new ones open above – a lovely metaphor for life and its many opportunities, don’t you think?!

nettle leaved mulleinThen, I encountered this ‘nettled-leaved mullein’ when visiting a garden in Maine – Verbascum Chaxii ‘album’ Isn’t it a beauty?I have been seaching for a domestic seed souce for this variety (unsuccessful so far – ideas most welcome!)  but in the mean time I’ve planted a few Verbascum ‘Southern Charm” which are coming along nicely and promising to flower soon.

verbascum 'southern charm' budsOnce it does flower, it will  surely appear in my still life and other instagram photos, because I just can’t get enough of all the Verbascums these days. Can you spot the Verbascum in the photo below?

stilll life with irises and verbascum.JPG