NZ Gardener - - THE GOOD LIFE -

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.

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