whistlestop caboose

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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Tulips 2006 for Gran ellengwallace's Tulips 2006 for Gran photoset

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Don't weed out the candleflower!


The first year I had a Swiss garden an extraordinary plant grew up. I had no idea if it was a weed or not. I rationalized that if it were it would spread. There was nothing else like it in the garden, and no imitators as summer wore on. On the other hand, I doubted I had planted it. I planted several things without noting them down and five years later I continue to find them here and there.

I left it alone, couldn't decide if I liked it or not, and the following summer it didn't return. The next summer it did, and grew to be about 8 feet tall. I looked it up: mullein, a member of the figwort family.

Last year it failed to grow, but this year, here it is, and it is thriving. I've decided to leave it in the middle of other tall flowers. And I've learned that it is also known as shepherd's staff and candleflower, that its yellow flowers are used in cough medicines and for sore throats.

The plants usually grow just one or two to a field, or at the sides of roads, singly. I was astonished a few weeks ago to see a small plantation of them outside a new and very expensive home on the outskirts of Geneva. Perhaps this is a pharmaceutical millionaire and this is his private crop?

Here is another view of my candleflower, for I think I prefer this name.

5 Comments:

Blogger maki said...

The candleflowers in our very wild and untended garden haven't come up this year, but instead we have more than the usual amount of evening primrose everywhere. Together with the pinks and dark burgundies of the hollyhocks, which have also gone native it seems, they make a striking sight. I'll take pictures once the sun comes out!

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you can become the Ricola supplier from your area!

Sister Mary

3:51 AM  
Blogger christin m p in massachusetts said...

Yes, the name candleflower fits -- the view of it in the lower photo reminds me of a candelabra.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This is a biennial plant.

You may miss noticing the first year's growth, which is a small fuzzy leaved rosette at ground level, looking very similar to lamb's ears.

The second year it shoots up it's flowers, to then seed and repeat...

7:16 PM  
Blogger whistlestop caboose said...

Christin, I agree, I think the name candleflower is perfect and lovely. Jenn, thanks for the information. When I looked it up in my books the information was minimal and I never got around to checking it out online. So now I know not to dig up the fuzzy bit in the off years. I have seen this, and wondered about it. Thanks!

1:06 PM  

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