Bronze-leafed common fennel.
How to grow
Fennel soon reaches 1.5m high, so you’ll only want one or two plants. The best bet is to buy them or get young plants from a friend or neighbour who already has fennel – it self-seeds readily.
How to care for fennel
Fennel likes a moist but well-drained soil that’s deep enough for its long tap root. Flat heads of tiny yellow flowers appear in summer – remove these before they shed their seeds to prevent them self-seeding and you can collect them for use in the kitchen.
Cut down the dead stems in early spring as the new growth starts to appear. Divide fennel every three to four years.
How to harvest
Pick the feathery young leaves and young stems as required. Collect the ripe seeds in late summer for flavouring sauces, bread and fish dishes.
The green-leafed form is the Garden or common fennel. For an alternative, try bronze fennel with brown/purple, feathery leaves that are very attractive in the border and just as tasty in the kitchen.