Mullein—a towering medicinal flower plant


From floppy flannel

velvet green leaves,

a friendly casual shrub

just hanging out,

a towering stalk


yellow buds



like a spear



far below.




I finally identified this wild plant as Mullein, not from thumbing through a field guide, but with one quick internet search for a plant that ‘looks like corn’.  Its visual profile resembles corn, but with velvety leaves and a flower spike, it’s not like corn at all and is a member of the Snapdragon family.

Some people love these plants and grow them in flower gardens.  There are many varieties. For herbalists, Mullein are known as a source of traditional remedies.  For me, the young plants, even younger than shown in my first photo, are quite attractive.  As they mature location becomes a factor. They are so huge that sometimes a towering stalk can feel like an obstruction–in the fall the stalks become hard wooden sticks.

Mullein is also known as:  Velvet plant, Verbascum Flowers, Woolen Blanket Herb, Bullock’s Lungwort, Flannel Flower, Shepherd’s Club, Hare’s Beard, Pig Taper, and Cow’s Lungwort.

A thank  you to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow, which gave me a nudge to gather photos, identify, and write about these plants.

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Bees buzzing in flowers—Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge #106


Riot of bugloss,

purple spikes buzz and bumble,

bees sipping nectar.



My haiku is in response to Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Challenge #106: ‘sing’ and ‘flower’.  ‘Bumble’ means to make a buzz or hum.  I am fairly certain (from peering at a field guide) that the wild flowers in the photos are ‘Viper’s Bugloss’.

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At dawn open chicory blooms

banish my gloom—

their haze of blue,

light purple hues!

Once I was a morning flower,

early hours

were my domain,

when youth did reign.

Now when I waken feeling down,

to lift my frown

I look, listen,

feel the glisten.



My poem is in response to Jane Dougherty Poetry Challenge #38: Daybreak.  The  form this week is a Minute poem with daybreak as the theme and this painting by Heinrich Vogeler Sehnsucht as inspiration.



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Royal Milkweed


Butterfly Flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallow-wort, Virginia silkweed, Common Milkweed.  These are all names for the same plant, known where I live in southern Canada as Common Milkweed.  The only common aspect of this plant is that it can grow everywhere, even on a gravel driveway—as shown in the photo I took this weekend.

In recent years milkweed has gained attention as a plant to cherish if we want to continue seeing monarch butterflies.   This is why I nickname it ‘Royal Milkweed’.  Its leaves are monarchs’ cradle.  Monarch butterflies carefully lay their eggs on the undersides of broad milkweed leaves so their progeny (caterpillars) may feed on the green flesh and white sap–no other food will do.

Milkweeds also flourish behind my garden, where every spring sprouts emerge from rhizome roots.  Their perfume is intoxicating.


Milkweed flowers are amazingly beautiful–comparable in their complexity to orchid flowers (says Wikipedia).


Milkweed is a plant of many contrasts, some of which I have noted in these haiku:

Growing in harsh ground,

Bearing milk sap and nectar,

Milkweed nourishes.

Broad thick leaves,

deep traveling roots,

sweet perfume.

Star flowers,

fresh beauty defies

common name.

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I was inspired to highlight the contrasts shown in these photos by the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: ‘Opposites’.

Garden sage in bloom

In response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge ‘Partners’.

When I planted garden sage, I was adding to my collection of cooking herbs.  I must admit, I also dreamed of making smudge sticks, but later learned that the varieties of sage used for ceremonial burning are quite different….and it is not pleasant nor healthy to burn garden sage!  I tried a few locations, and finally found one where sage would grow happily.  In fact they took over…this is the third year now and they are a thriving community, bushy and close, sending up multiple spikes of purple flowers.


This second photo gives a somewhat closer view of the flowers, sharing their stems with many others.


Plants love to congregate.  It never ceases to amaze me how, when left to their own devices, plants will grow next to and under each other.  Sometimes called weeds, they could be thought of as companions, depending on your perspective at the moment.  The main neighbor shown here is a dogwood bush, visited by spittle bugs, which, I am told, will not damage the plant.  And finally, the most interesting part of this photo for me is the surprise collection of white sage flowers!


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Blue star surprises

The small flower bed next to my porch still yields surprises after five springs and summers of being here. There is a mystery creeping vine that I’ve trimmed and perhaps hampered–I wonder–but today it came up with fresh apple green leaves and blue flowers that I don’t recall seeing before.  I took a photo and wrote a brief poem, a ‘cinquain’.



mystery vine

spreads, tangles, winds upwards,

delicate stars, translucent blue,


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Daisies celebrate Ontheland’s First Anniversary—June 11, 2016


On June 11 last year I posted ‘How does my garden grow?’, my first Ontheland post since May 2011. This last year of blogging has been an amazing journey. Without too much fanfare I would like to mark Ontheland’s first blog birthday with appreciation and thanks.  Thank you to everyone who has read, liked, followed and commented here over the past year.  I have also enjoyed reading and being inspired by other blogs.   Witnessing the thoughts, creativity, and talents of others has been invaluable.

Some history:  technically, Ontheland was born in September 2010–for 8 months I wrote and posted articles, but had no understanding of the interactive aspect of blogging. No wonder my energy petered out!   Last summer, four years later, with my mind protesting ‘I don’t have time’, I registered for Blogging 101.  That’s when the penny dropped…after interacting in a course community I emerged ready to read and be read.  That’s why June 11, 2015 will be Ontheland’s official ‘date of birth’.


The flowers I have chosen to mark this day are wild daisies. Why? Wildflowers come and go over the course of spring and summer.  Daisies are currently in bloom around my house–I took these photos yesterday.  Getting to know and appreciate the natural cycles of growth around me is one of my many interests.

Daisies are thought of as a simple, unsophisticated flower. According to a few internet sources they symbolize  values such as innocence, gentleness, purity and beauty.  Purity and simplicity are themes of this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge.  I have met many compatible bloggers through this weekly challenge and other blogging community events–particularly Ronovan’s Haiku Challenge and Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge.