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Report From PIA – June 17

I love Verbascum. From the common, roadside mulleins to the small, pink hybrids, I find them all delightful. It doesn’t matter that they’re mostly biennials and I have to start them from seed every year. I don’t care that, for the most part, they only bloom in the early summer.

You see this plant speaks to me. Yes, I enjoy the flowers, but there is a spirit to this plant that goes far beyond pretty blossoms. So many are strong and stately. This is a plant with a point of view…no namby-pamby flopping around or blooming all summer here, oh no.

“Stand up straight and stop mumbling!” they seem to say.

My Verbascum grow one year, bloom the next, and then they’re out of here, thank you very much. The first year plants survive the winter and the following summer they proceed to point to the sky, straight and strong. They’re commanding plants with personality. I’m in awe of their purpose, beauty and life force.

In order to enjoy these biennials I need to sow seeds every spring for the following season, and I’m willing to cultivate these splendid plants every year. They remind me that most things worth having take continual attention. My Verbascum tell me to look more than once, and go beyond the surface of things to the spirit that is waiting to be seen.

This one is 'Banana Custard'. It is 6' tall, and if I'm quiet enough, I can hear it call to me as I walk by.

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