Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing' is the most elegant and garden-worthy form of the common cow parsley. With stunning, rich deep purple, almost black, finely cut ferny foliage the first year, it explodes the second year with delicate clusters of small white flowers held above the darkest of foliage. Grown for both the foliage and the frothy umbels, it is so popular among Chelsea designers that this plant is in danger of becoming a cliché!
Growing to around 50cm tall and as wide, the plants are best in a full sun to light shaded position with regular water and rich soil. Too much shade results in green leaves.
This biennial or short-lived perennial will flower in its second summer. You can cut the stems back to maintain the foliage-only look, or let them self-sow for new plants. It comes true from seed, but be selective and choose the darkest of the seedlings which can be easily moved or potted on.
Anthriscus sylvestris 'Ravenswing' make a perfect plant for a wild garden or meadow, and an effective companion to ornamental grasses. The lace foliage and frothy umbels of flowers are excellent in the vase. Use them for fillers in bouquets as you would Queen Anne’s lace.
Sowing: Sow outdoors in September to February or May to June.
Seed dormancy is broken by a period of chilling and therefore sowing should occur in late summer to spring. The best location for this sowing is the open field, the cold frame or a cold greenhouse. Plants can be sown indoors, but direct sowing is preferable. As with most of the Umbelliferae/Apiaceae (Carrot) family, they have a long taproot which can be damaged when transplanting.
Sow directly where they are to grow, as, with its long taproot, this plant does not transplant well. Surface sow to no more than 1mm (1/8in) deep. Sow thinly in drills 30cm (12in) apart in well-cultivated soil which has been raked to a fine tilth. Lightly cover seed. Water ground regularly, especially in dry periods. Germination will normally occur in 8 to 10 weeks dependent on temperatures. When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 45cm (18in) apart.
For use as a cut flower, support with brushwood or link stakes before the flowers appear. Do not plant in areas where carrot seed is produced because it hybridises with the crop and ruins the seed
Cow Parsley is a biennial plant; it takes two years to flower from seed. It puts on leaves, stems and roots during the first year and then flowers the following summer. Once they have flowered they die. These plants will self seed freely unless you remove the spent flower heads. If you do not want it to self seed, once flowering is over and before seed production starts, cut it back to just above ground level.
Like many of our native plants, Anthriscus sylvestris is truly beautiful in a wildflower meadow, but does self seed readily. For the flower garden there is also a similar option, the annual named Ammi majus. It is the flower common in the cut flower trade as "Queen Anne's Lace", and is also sometimes called "Bishop's Flower."
Beds and Borders, Cut Flowers, Wildlife and natural planting schemes.
Anthriscus sylvestris is native to Europe, western Asia and north-western Africa; in the south of its range in the Mediterranean region, it is limited to higher altitudes.
‘Anthriscus’ is named after Theophrastus, a Greek native who was the successor of Aristotle. It was Theophrastus who first detected the process of germination and realized the importance of climate and soil to plants.
His two surviving botanical works, Enquiry into Plants and On the Causes of Plants, were an important influence on medieval science.
The species name 'sylvestris' is from the Latin for ‘of the woods’ and, so, a woodland plant but the application is often extended to mean a plant which grows in the wild.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500 mg Average Seed Count 25 seeds Family Apiaceae Genus Anthriscus Species sylvestris Cultivar Ravenswing Synonym Chaerophyllum sylvestre Common Name Gipsy Laces, Lady's Needlework. Other Common Names Queen Annes Lace, Moonlight Scab Flower, Wild Chervil Other Language Names IR. Peirsil bhó Hardiness Hardy Biennial Flowers Open, white lacy umbels. Natural Flower Time May to July. Height 60 to 170 cm Spread 45 to 60cm (18-24in) Position Full Sun/Partial Shade Soil Well drained soil Time to Sow Sow outdoors in September to February or May to June. Germination 8 to 10 weeks dependent on temperatures