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Berlin meet your weeds- free toilet paper?

In the final part of this 6 part weed journey read on for a more personal tale of why I love weeds featuring Verbascum thapsus (Greater Mullein) who also glories by the name 'Cow Boy Toilet Paper'.

Why is that?

The large grey green leaves can be used like toilet paper for all your alfresco personal care needs. They have a slightly abrasive texture which is...alarming.

The function is 80% as good as your best Hakle (Germany's favourite toilet paper brand)

Many leaves are used in our toilet paper adventures when we are caught short in the great outdoors and this is the only one I know that actually works well.

So now you know.

If we run out of toilet paper again you know exactly what to do. Which reminds of something that happened to me...

Right: Germany's top toilet paper (the proof)

A personal story:

July 2022. My body burned. It was the worst flu I had ever experienced- or so I thought- but I crawled out of bed and got dressed to go to the party anyway. I was that determined and stupid even though I looked and felt like the skin of a dead toad.

Luckily I had the sense to get tested before I went and that's how I made the discovery like so many of us that my illness wasn't the flu at all.

I finally got the plague.

I got the plague after everyone had already gotten it. I got the plague when everyone was sick of talking about it. Sympathy was in short supply but I was going to be fine because I had a jar of dried flowers.


Yes I drank a tea made from the yellow flowers of Cow Boy Toilet Paper and found it helped my symptoms. This is not so surprising as the flowers have a medicinal history of relieving coughs and fevers.

The taste was slimy and uninspiring but the cough was better.

I am sceptical of most 'magical' plant rhetoric so I will not exaggerate its effectiveness but it did make me feel 20% better.

Plant story

Cow Boy Toilet Paper is a biennial. This means it completes its life cycle in 2 years. In the first Summer it develops a rosette of leaves and in its 2nd Summer flowers and dies. It loves to grow on dry sandy ground. If you want to grow it get the flower heads when they are dry and shake them over any patch of bare ground you would like to see covered in stately weeds.

Fire works

Mullein has an interesting history of being set on fire.

Known auf Deutsch as 'Königskerze' ('Kings Candle') the dried flower stalks were set on fire after being dipped in animal fat and used to light up the sconces of dark age castles.

Try this at your next Berlin B.B.Q. let me know how many neighbours complain.

The stalks are huge and the fire will be intense.

So that's it. To be honest I will look forward to writing about something else apart from weeds- the gardening season is coming to an end and Berlin is already planning on taking back her Summer. However there is still time to fill your balcony with beautiful plants and get some gardening work done. Message me at and I will fix your garden or balcony with my simple good garden design and plant care expertise so you can enjoy more quality living space.

Enjoy your weeds!

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