I get a certain amount of flak for my untidy veggie garden. I let things go to flower and seed and see what comes up from them next year. I love that I can grow carrots without having to do anything at all but throw around a bit of compost.
I enjoy the flowers.
That’s where I learned my new favourite word.
It’s a mumbling, ominous-sounding adjective that doesn’t really suggest the prettiness and regularity of an umbrella shaped flower.
I was astonished by the size and profligacy of the parsnip flowers. Carrots also seem to produce far more above ground than they do below. I started with one row of seed, and only three resulting plants. I let two go to seed themselves and they went on growing for three years, producing weird fibrous roots and massive flower heads. I’ve tried seeding in new places in the garden since, but the original area and its progeny makes the best and most prolific carrots by far.
Most of my garden umbrellas are introduced herbs and vegetables, but there are some Australian natives in the umbel (“Apiaceae”) family including the local wildflower Blue Devil and something called “sea-celery” (apium prostratum) which doesn’t grow around here for obvious reasons.
The umbrella is supposedly useful for protecting other veggies in the garden, as ladybugs and parasitic flies apparently sit and drink nectar when not attacking young pests. I’m happy to give them all the rest and recuperation they want, although I notice that the vegetable umbels are not as attractive to local insects as the native callistemon flowers.
One of the best things about the umbelliferous plants is that so many of them are edible. Except the Blue Devil, probably. I haven’t tried it. Don’t plan to. I’ve got plenty of carrot, celery and parsnip anyway.