Going to seed

We have been working in the garden this weekend, despite it being exhaustingly humid, and pretty damn hot. We really wanted to put up a new cover on the orchard, since the existing cover has holes in it, punched through by enthusiastic Peach and Plum watershoots. We got as far as putting up a new beam across the uncovered section, and making a single roofing arch out of polypipe. The kids are stir-crazy, though, and it is way too exposed to continue!

So, whilst Stephen was taking care of digging a new bed inside the chicken coop, I wandered about taking photos of plants in our garden. I kept noticing a pattern – all the Apiaceae family of plants are seeding at once. I’m talking specifically about our Parsley, Celery and Parsnip, but also the Coriander (which is always seeding in the garden). The carrots are too small at the moment to be seeding, and I only have about four plants since the last germination rate was pretty sad.

I thought I’d share with you some pictures so you can compare just how similar (and beautiful) these plants really are!

Parsley flowers
Parsley flowers are very subtle

The parsley has been seeding for some months now. Most of the plants have advanced seed heads, but this one was a little slower than the others and is still showing a few flowers. They are very small compared to the other Apiaceae in our garden.

Parsley seed heads
Parsley seeds

In the shot above, you can see a good range of development of the parsley seed. The dark brown ones look ready to drop.

Parsnip flowers unfurling
Parsnip flowers unfurling

Compare the Parsley with the Parsnip, though, and you can immediately see that the flowers are yellow, and quite prominent. Parsnip is quite beautiful when it flowers. See how the stem here is a little bit like a skinny celery? The shoot that puts up flowers is quite like a celery stem. Bet it tastes bad though!

20140119-122304.jpg

Here’s a lovely spray of Parsnip flowers. They are very much like a yellow version of Queen Anne’s Lace, only not so tall.

Parsnip against the sky
Flowering Parsnip

The Parsnip has only been flowering for a few weeks, but the Celery has been going for a couple of months.

Celery flowers
Flowering celery

In the above picture you can see how thick and heavy the flowers are, they are pulling the stems over sideways under the weight. The flowers are delicate, too.

Celery seed
Celery seed

The most developed seed on the celery appears to be forming close to the stem, nearer the base of the plant. The celery leaves look a lot like flat-leaf parsley, here.

I don’t have any shots of Coriander to show, as all our “path Coriander” has finished and died back in the recent heat. It continually drops seed into our gravel path and comes up all by itself. This was the first seed we ever saved (and we’ve been eating it every since!), but we could never get it to grow in the garden when we planted it back. However, let it fall naturally into some rocks? Comes up everywhere. Turns out all the seeds in this family are quite hard to get to germinate, but they self-seed like crazy!

We have path Coriander, driveway Parsnip, and the Parsley just renews itself in the garden bed every two years. Just like magic. The self-sown Parsnip was amazing to discover. We have such trouble getting it going and here it is, a whole garden bed full of it, and in varying stages of growth so we can just pick the right size when we need it!

The flowers are always covered in wildlife, too. Bees (native and different honey bees) and ladybirds are particularly attracted. If you have some of these plants in your garden, and you don’t mind them popping up a little tall and getting very cheerfully untidy on you – why not try letting it seed? You’ll probably be surprised where it comes up next. 🙂

I really love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment! :)

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