AN ANGELIC HERB
Most people only encounter Angelica archangelica as chewy green blobs in their Christmas fruit cakes, but this statuesque biennial is a garden superstar. It flowers in its second year and, when it goes to seed, it doesn’t waste any time, rising rapidly from knee to shoulder height in a month.
Historically, angelica’s aromatic seeds and roots were dried, crushed or steeped in herbal concoctions to treat dysentery, cholera and gastric issues, but the hollow stems were prized for confectionery.
Even if you don’t enjoy its gentle herbal flavour, it’s worth growing culinary angelica for its greenish-yellow, nectar-rich flowers. Bees and beneficial insects adore it, while I love its sculptural ball-shaped seedheads.
Leafy first-year angelica.
Day 3: plentiful pollen for insects.
Day 10: the seedheads form balls.
Day 7: pollinated seeds swelling.
Day 1: the buds open to flower.
Day 21: the ripening seeds.
Angelica in full bloom.
Left unpicked, the seedheads add sculptural drama for months.