Meet. . . Verbascum!

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Two mulleins reside in my garden. Both plants have large, felt like leaves and yellow flowers that bloom along tall (up to 8 feet), candelabra type stalks. The common or flannel mullein (Verbascum thapsus), pictured above, is a common wildflower of the west. It blooms for a long time in mid-summer and provides sculptural interest in a naturalized garden. However, I much prefer its fancy “city cousin”, the giant silver mullein (Verbascum bombiciferum), pictured below. Something about the dense white “fur” that clothes the huge leaves and flower stalks is almost magical. Both of these plants are biennials; the first year produces the huge foliage rosette—often three to four feet in diameter---and the second year provides the flowers. Let these plants go to seed to keep their presence in the garden. Small seedlings can be easily transplanted or removed.
Verbascum bombiciferum

Total trivia: In the movie Pride and Prejudice (Focus Features/Universal, 2006), Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy have a brief conversation on the stone terrace of his estate, Pemberly. I’m not positive, but I think that the huge plant growing in the terrace floor is a giant silver mullein! (OK, OK, I’ll admit it. Yes, I own the movie and, yes, I’ve watched it more than once.)

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