Monday, April 30, 2007

Black stemmed cow parsley

It is glorious weather so this post will be short as there is a lot of weeding still to do and, now that we are almost into May, a lot of daylight to do it by.

This photo is of Anthriscus sylvestris "ravenswing", a black stemmed cow parsley recommended by Sarah Raven in her book The Bold and Brilliant Garden. It is a big improvement on the general cow parsley which covers the verges here. Now I love cow parsley - there is no finer sight than verges of cow parsley fluff with the last of the pink campion and a few bluebells - but it is not a garden plant.

Ravenswing has daintier flowers which seem to almost sparkle against the dark red leaves and stems. It does self sow but does it very gently (not something you could say of the wild cow parsley) and is a couple of weeks earlier into flower.

It also doesn't seem to have the rank smell of cow parsley when cut and looks beautiful in a vase mixed with black and white columbines like "Magpie" and "Guinness".

I am looking at wild flowers a lot this week - one of the things that we want to do is create a couple of meadow patches here - one in front of the house will be flagrantly based on the entrance to Great Dixter and I will use all sorts of things there to try and create that million flowers type tapestry effect. The other will be in the sloping field and I want to be much more careful there.

I read a lot of books about wildflower meadows over the winter and found that I should really be trying to get very, very local seed to create my patch - the general seed mixes are seemingly not ideal as they bring in slightly different genetic pools into the area. This is seemingly the case even if they are British or even Scottish mixes.

I want to do this properly so I am now collecting seed from an area of 5 miles around the house - we grew some hawksbit last year and I have some baby primroses in plugs. I have my eye on campion and water avens in the lane which should have seed next month.

It will be slow - no quick fix of buying a bag of damp meadow mix - but I think we can take our time. (Euan will laugh at this as I am the most ridiculously impatient person)


Marie said...

Hi Jane

The black stemmed cow parsley is pretty and new to me. Good luck with the wildflower meadow - I look forward to seeing the photos.


Ragged Roses said...

That cow parsley is beautiful - I will have to try and get hold of some. I've never seen it before. Your wildflower patch sounds a wonderful idea - good luck.
Kim x

Jane said...

The cow parsley grows well from seed but it has to be REALLY fresh - I will try to remember to mention it when I have seeds and then I can post some seeds to anyone who is interested.