Bronze Fennel in the Mixed Border
Bronze fennel is the ultimate foliage perennial, but it takes a brave gardener to embrace and grow it. When I bought my first two dollar pot the nursery owner warned me - bronze fennel could become a nusiance.
Ha! My garden has much worse nuisances - like the gum leaves which are continually falling, messing up my paths and lawns... But back to bronze fennel. I love everything about it - except the smell, which in late summer is rather unpleasant.
The foliage starts off a deep purply brown and lightens by the time the yellow seed-heads form. Seed-heads - eek! Should I be worried? Actually, no - the seedlings are easy to find and pull out, provided one does some weeding between late summer and spring. Oops...
Fennel in Flower
Piet Oudolf Would Agree!
For the unenlightened gardener this foliage perennial could well be a centimeter (or an inch) away from being a weed. But I love it, and will always grow it. I'm pretty sure that the great garden designer Piet Oudolf would agree with me. So there!
It should be a brilliant container plant. But I tried one year to grow some bronze fennel plants in a large blue patio pot. I thought this would show daring and style, but oddly the fennel didn't grow very well. I haven't tried since.
With my rather basic camera skills it's hard to take a good photograph of the feathery bits. Sorry about that - after all, that's the foliage!