Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

There's a Frill in the Air; Add a Hint of Romance to the Summer with Sprays of These Tantalising Wispy White Stems

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

There's a Frill in the Air; Add a Hint of Romance to the Summer with Sprays of These Tantalising Wispy White Stems

Article excerpt

Byline: YOUR GARDEN With Diarmuid Gavin

DRIVING around Britain recently, there was plenty of flora to admire in the countryside - the hedgerows were heavy with May tree blossoms and I caught tantalising glimpses of woodlands carpeted with bluebells.

I've not been involved in the Chelsea Flower Show this year but I was reminded of it when I observed the roadside verges full of cow parsley which has long been a favourite of show garden designers at this time of year.

This wild plant has delightful ferny foliage and is topped with sprays of white flowers.

Look more closely and you will see the flowers are at the end of tiny stems splayed like an umbrella.

This tells you it's an umbellifer and its relatives in the plant world include carrots, parsley, parsnips, angelica and celery.

It's a useful plant because it belongs to a group of herbaceous plants that are best described as "floaty" - they drift delicately through the border, their wispy white flowers appearing as if to float magically in the air.

Recently I wrote about store cupboard perennials - the hardy foot soldiers such as geranium and alchemilla, who are as tough as old boots, work hard and never let you down.

The floaty plants are more like chiffon and organza, their fragility adding an ethereal touch to the garden.

There are other umbellifers that provide a light elegance. Also flowering in May is Orlaya grandiflora, the white lace flower, a very pretty hardy annual which will keep flowering through the summer.

Direct sow in spring, or this autumn for earlier flowering next year. Or you can direct sow Bishop's weed, Ammi majus, into the ground now and have lovely lacey white flowers later in the summer.

For a touch of pink frothiness, try Chaerophyllum 'Roseum', hairy chervil, which has lovely umbels of pale pink flowers.

It's perennial but with umbellifers you don't lift and divide to propagate.

Like their carrot cousins, they have a tap root which can't be split apart. …

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