Half a Hundred Herbs Week 8 – Fennel

fennel2This is what the bronze fennel looks like just now, sprouting early, and getting ready to pump out leaves in a purple cloud, a fountain considerably taller than I am. It’s certainly a looker. In summer it will look like this:

fenneland in winter it looks spectacular covered in frost. Bees hoverflies and butterflies like the flowers, and birds like the seeds, so I don’t mind too much that it self-seeds all round the garden.

In the kitchen it doesn’t have much of a look-in in our family, although cookery books will tell you how great it is with fish. It tastes something between liquorice and aniseed, and no-one else likes it. But I like the seeds in a rice salad, and steeped in water they make a great herbal tea for upset stomachs. It has a reputation for helping slimmers, though with what justification I don’t know.

This blog has slipped a little, and I hope to catch up with myself quite soon – we are about two herbs behind, and there will be posts about violets and sorrel shortly. But it isn’t because I’ve been idle. Real gardening is beginning now, and I’ve been sowing seeds of tomatoes and peppers, cutting back the dead stems of oregano and st johns wort, pruning roses and lavender, and hardening off the plants I’ll be moving to their permanent positions in the garden. There are a couple of new poems in draft, and I’m gathering notes and thoughts about monastic gardens and herbal potions.

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