Photographs by Sabina Rüber
Ammi majus is one of the most useful annuals of all, and one of those plants that has leapt into fashion recently with the swing to a more natural style of gardening. A more subtle form of cow parsley, it is what I call a Botox plant - a filler that can be used to bolster and enhance a summer border, colonising all those unsightly bare patches to give the garden a more fluid look. Its delicate white flowers float in weightless clouds above bulbs and other lower storey plants, or weave effortlessly in and out of taller forms as a linking plant, with small clusters of tiny white flowers that explode outwards on narrow stalks; look at the flower head upside down and marvel at the way nature has constructed it. Its relative A. visnaga has more densely clustered and domed flower heads, like angelica, and therefore offers slightly more visual interest from a distance. Although it grows to about the same height as A. majus, between 75cm and 1m tall, it feels meatier and more substantial - less frothy lace and more architecture - and it flowers slightly later. The cultivar ‘Green Mist’ has a greener tinge to its flowers, and looks wonderful with purple or blue larkspur. Both ammis are great for cutting - the type of flowers that don't need any arranging, that will look stunning just shoved in a vase with a few cosmos or nicotiana. Last year I grew both ammis from seed sown under cover in early spring, but they will produce sturdier and taller plants if you sow in trays or pots in September, overwintering the seedlings in a cold frame and planting out in late spring. They can also be sown direct in late spring for a later summer flowering. Both are easy to germinate and need little attention once in the ground.
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