One of my favourite plants. I bought a small pot, and put it in the raised bed in a sunny spot. It soon towered over everything else. I battled to keep it well staked against the winds and at one point a huge branch snapped, but seemed to recover when I taped it back together.
Fennel is a highly aromatic and tasty herb with culinary and medicinal uses and, along with the similar-tasting anise, is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. Florence fennel is a selection with a swollen, bulb-like stem base that is used as a vegetable.
It’s a fantastic architectural plant, its yellow flowers stretching high towards the sky, inviting passing butterflies to feed. A wide range of beneficial insects feed on it such as lacewings, ladybirds, hoverflies and parasitic wasps. It was certainly busy.
Apparently you should collect the seeds to prevent it self-seeding everywhere, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I was delighted to spot the chiff chaffs. Several at a time, these insect eating birds, were finding plenty of food in the branches of the towering fronds. Then it was the turn of the sparrows, and the dunnocks, feasting on the fallen seeds. I left the fennel until January, at which I point I cut it all down to ground level, stripping off any remaining seeds and leaving them for the birds. Now it’s sprouting fresh green shoots from the bottom, and I’m looking forward to it coming back this year.