A View from the Garden Gate Project: Towering mulleins, tasty moin-moin and Music Day preparations

Sweet peas at the Garden Gate Project

By Nick Condron

The garden in July, past the peak of midsummer, has transitioned into a mood of relaxed abundance. The beds now full and flourishing, are testaments to all the hard work of earlier months. The vibrant greens of early summer have deepened, and a tapestry of rich colours is provided by the blooms of cosmos, dahlias, sweet peas and Oriental poppies.


The majestic mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is standing tall and proud with its fuzzy, candelabra-style stalks adorned with velvety leaves and topped by dense clusters of yellow flowers. Revered by the ancient Greeks and Romans for treating respiratory ailments, wounds, and inflammation, some folk cultures have even believed it could ward off evil spirits. A biennial, it’s fairly easy to cultivate, thriving in well-lit areas with well-drained soil. Once germinated outdoors in early spring or autumn, they’ll spend their first year developing a basal rosette of leaves, before sending up their flowering stalk in the second year.

One foe that can plague mullein is the aptly named mullein moth (Paradelia schwartzii). These moths lay their eggs on the mullein’s leaves, and the hatching caterpillars munch away on the foliage, sometimes causing significant damage. However, mullein populations are usually resilient enough to bounce back from moth infestations.

In the kitchen, we’ve recently been treated to Sara and Becky’s delicious Nigerian moin-moin. It’s a banana leaf-wrapped, steamed honey bean and onion pudding, which made for a deliciously spicy accompaniment to a fresh broad bean, kohlrabi and nasturtium flower salad. We’ve got more honey beans on the way so hopefully we’ll enjoy it again before the summer’s out.

Meanwhile, in the craft room our team are busy making an array of rockets, satellites, stars, planets and other space-themed decorations for our upcoming Music Day on Saturday 20th July, 2pm – 9 pm. We still have a limited number of tickets available and look forward to seeing you if you’re coming along. In the meantime, happy gardening!


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