• The Plantsman’s Advent Calendar Day 19: Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Raven’s Wing’

    Now, biennials don’t get a lot of love.  It’s puzzling–to be a horticultural favorite you either have to have a shelf-life of nine months or four years (or more) to get any kind of respect.  Two-year affairs mean nothing.  Where have we gone wrong?  Do short-term relationships mean nothing nowadays?  At any rate, I’m just as guilty of promulgating anti-biennial rhetoric.  I say words like ‘sustainable’ and ‘thrive’ a lot, which don’t necessarily apply to a plant that only hangs around for a couple years before checking out to the big compost pile in the sky.  But for this plant, I’ll admit to the errors of my ways.

    Black plants, particularly ones like Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Raven’s Wing’, have a way of bewitching the soul.  For the prudes among us, I’m sure they’re just as good as lepers, outlawed from general use for standing out just a little too much from the crowd.  For us brazen sorts, they grow right at home.

    Surprisingly though, this is one of the few plants on this list that I don’t currently grow, though have loved from my travels enough to share with you this month.  It’s not that I can’t find it or wouldn’t want it.  I just haven’t brought it home and for no particularly good reason.  Remember the saying too many plants, too little time?  But I’ll tell you why I would and some day will plant it.

    First, I’d do it just because I could.  This plant’s hardiness is too often underrated.  It’s perfectly hardy to Zone 5, evidenced by my own eyes.  Even if it wasn’t, it’s really not the flowers that anyone cares about (unless you’re aiming to nab a few seeds), but rather the foliage, which would look comely spilling out of a huge container right next to your front door.  Stick it to the man, hipsters.

    Second–texture, color, texture, color, blah, blah, blah.  All the stuff that’s self evident.  She’s a rock star, a diva, and she’s got what words don’t.  Plus, black foliage in the second season finds a dancing partner in sundry white umbels that bloom with seeming laxity.

    Third, just because it reseeds.  The beauty of so many biennials is that they freely reseed, perpetuating another cycle of short-lived, though extremely satisfying two year ordeals, over and over.

    Fourth, because sometimes they will live longer than just two years, though I never hold my breath (you know how these flings go).  It seems in warmer climates, longevity increases.  How true…


    Annie’s Annuals

    Arrowhead Alpines 

    Anthriscus sylvestris 'Raven Wing'  ©2011, Kelly D. Norris

    Anthriscus sylvestris 'Raven Wing' ©2011, Kelly D. Norris

7 Responsesso far.

  1. Brian Morley says:

    I’ve never grown it, but I’ll try it soon!

  2. […] « The Plantsman’s Advent Calendar Day 19: Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Raven’s Wing’ […]

  3. Kelly Norris says:

    You can’t beat black foliage like that!

  4. Scott Weber says:

    One of my new faves within the past few years…then again, I’m a sucker for almost anything in the umbellifer family! It seems to sulk a bit in hotter weather, but it always springs back in autumn.

  5. Kelly Norris says:

    I agree Scott….Apiaceae is a hot mess.

  6. Gitte H says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I would like to hear, if you will allow my to show the Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ picture on my garden blog. I will of course write a reference to your page.

    Best regards

    Gitte H


  7. Kelly Norris says:

    Hi Gitte,

    Thanks for asking. You may use the image if you provide a link back to my site. Please email me the link to your page when you have it finished: gardens@kellydnorris.com. Thank you!

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