October is a busy month in the garden. We are planting bulbs, thinking roses and peonies and God knows what shrubs and bushes that will need the cold month to install in their new home. Mostly we think about noble and pedigree provided plants but what if we allowed a true wilding in our garden?
I'm thinking about Ammi Visnaga, a wild parent of carrots and celery, but with a certain allure...
Ammi visnaga is a species of flowering plant in the carrot family, known by many common names, including bisnaga, toothpickweed, and khella. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world . This is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot, erect to a maximum height near 1 m.. Leaves are up to 20 centimeters long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of pale green turning to white flowers similar to those of other Apiaceae species. Sap can be irritating. Otherwise Ammi V. is used as a medicinal plant for its many properties.
So much about the botanical facts.
In the garden, our White Lace flower ( a much nicer and more appropriate name than bisnaga...) ads a feathery and light touch. The foliage reminds me of fennel but without the giant growth of this last one - personally I adore fennel, but one has to have plenty of space which I do not...
The flower heads are frothy and light, changing from pale green to a somewhat matte shade of white.
The blooming period is reasonably long (June to August) not one of this fleeting bloomers that make you fume because they just happen to put on a magnificent show the only day you could not be in the garden!
Think of it as a perfect filler for gaps in the flower bed and as a plant that can add a light and feathery touch among plants with a much more compact growth.
Concerning the growing conditions, Ammi is a pretty easy bet. Its wild nature makes it a true non fuzz plant, provided you can give it a sunny and moist spot. Actually you can see it growing like mad on plenty of road and field borders through the Mediterranean area. Some say to sow it in march but I think you can try and sow it directly in your border right now... After all this is what it does in nature and this way the plants have more time to prepare themselves.
Ammi makes beautiful cut flowers and the dried flower heads are pretty if left on the plant in the cold season.
If this is not enough, like all umbellifere, it appeals to all sorts of nice insects and butterflies and the seeds are a good food source for birds in winter.
Be aware though that if she should like herself in your garden it will freely and generously seed itself allover, since it might look prim and proper but deep down it stays a wild thing!
Marry it with other annuals like Cosmos Bipinnatus Purity, Papaver Snowhead, Lupinus, Astrantias, Nicotina "Green Lime", Larkspurs of any type
(there is no such thing as an gross Larkspur, but it can be quite a challenge to grow it) to play down the stiffness of certain roses and hide the bare, thorny foot. I could imagine it next to some delicate English Roses but there again, any of us has his own Rose fetishes.