Friday Flowers–Fennel Failure

Forgive the alliteration, coffee hasn’t kicked in.

You know what I’ve always wanted? An herb garden. Unfortunately, I am admittedly a  failure at it. I had a slight success with some rosemary a couple years back. Kept it alive for about five years. The basil did okay, but I don’t recall it lasting for more than maybe two seasons. But it went to pot and I’ve never tried it again.  I had lemon balm, it died, tried dill, ditto. (again with the alliteration!)

Recently, I went to this place my mom likes and was tickled pink to find they had herbs. So I found some fennel and thought what the hell.

Fennel, so says Grieves’ Modern Herbal, is: a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves, grows wild in most parts of temperate Europe, but is generally considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, whence it spreads eastwards to India. It has followed civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world upon dry soils near the sea-coast and upon river-banks. It flourishes particularly on limestone soils and is now naturalized in some parts of this country, being found from North Wales southward and eastward to Kent, being most frequent in Devon and Cornwall and on chalk cliffs near the sea. It is often found in chalky districts inland in a semi-wild state.

For the medicinal use of its fruits, commonly called seeds, Fennel is largely cultivated in the south of France, Saxony, Galicia, and Russia, as well as in India and Persia.

Okay, good. If it’s been around in temperate areas for centuries how hard can this be?

I brought it home and repotted it, rocks in the bottom for drainage and such, just like dad taught me. At first, it did well. By the end of the first week, it looked like this:


This is from week one, back in May, with watering it whenever it felt dry. Its previous owner is an organic genius so I figure it’s me and my yellow thumb (yeah, not so good for the druid thing, eh?)

Herm…. A good friend of mine says the stuff grows wild around her but she’s in the Northwest. I asked her advice and followed it…and the conventional wisdom around the web says likewise:

Moreover, it demands little attention from its host or hostess after having been made to feel at home; once sprouted in only moderately fertile, chalky soil, it requires little watering or feeding.

Okay so I snipped the dead piece off (it’s in my herb cabinet right now) and I tried the “dribble when I got worried” method, leaving the soil mostly dry. Yet still. It’s doing it again:


Does this look, like Modern Herbal says:

4 to 5 feet or more in height, erect and cylindrical, bright green and so smooth as to seem polished, much branched bearing leaves cut into the very finest of segments. The bright golden flowers, produced in large, flat terminal umbels, with from thirteen to twenty rays, are in bloom in July and August.

To you??

I wish I had my heroine Caitlin’s touch. Brother, if that don’t make her books fantasies I don’t know what does. 😉 Because she’s better than me, and what I wish I could garden like!

So, I gotta ask, if watering normally (’til the soil’s wet to the touch) is causing it to do this, and if dribbling it with water though letting the soil remain 90% dry  is causing it to do this….how do I save this plant? When you read the conventional wisdom it says “this plant’s easy to care for” and “watch out because it’ll take over!” but …uh, herm. I’m not seeing that in my little plant.  For the gardeners out there: any suggestions? I’m thinking this poor thing ain’t going to make it to the end of August let alone July, at this rate–or the second year that Florida Gardening says it should get to. And surviving to get me some of the seeds? Yeah, good luck with that. I know I’m in zone Hot as Huh…mmm… (that would  be zone 9) but you’d think a plant that’s suppose to take over would be harder to kill. What do I do besides call this another failure?

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Share an excerpt Saturday

Since spring is here, I’m sharing a “garden” excerpt from Caitlin’s Book of Shadows:

Caitlinsbos700“I can’t wait for the spring thaw,” Caitlin complained, sliding her coat off. “Come on, late February!”
“No,” Trevor said, sweeping the shop’s floor. “Can we skip February?”
Her heart twisted and she smoothed a hand down his arm. February would mark one year since Gordon’s death—and what a year it had been! She shuddered, not
wanting to remember. “I’m sorry, honey.” She wondered if more peace spells were in order.
“Personally, I can’t wait to get back out in my garden. I’ve been reading about the cultivation of orange trees. I’d love to add one! I’m sure we can fit it in. Maybe
place it in the west corner of the yard.”
Trevor frowned and turned back to his work. “We’ll see. Are you going to have room after the Christmas tree?”
“Of course.” She sighed and swept a duster over the elaborate Hulish figurines he’d set on a table near the shop’s front window. “I wonder if it will survive the
hot summer. Probably not. If it doesn’t, I can put the orange tree there. Hibiscus might be an easy addition and—being a little daring—I think I’d like to try some lavender this year.” She sighed. “I bet it’ll die on me.”
“You’re better than that and you know it,” he said, disappearing into the office.
Caitlin flipped the duster over and shoved it into its holder behind the desk. She glanced out the window at the gray, chilly afternoon. Come on, spring! I’ve had enough of the cold!

Would you like to read more? The story continues in Caitlin’s Book of Shadows, available at Amazon and barnes and noble.
genre: Supernatural horror


Though their fame became legend, a rumor cropped up about the Fulmer family: Something terrifying stalked Caitlin and her beloved Trevor. Something the bits and pieces she left claimed she had to make sense of. When the curator of their collection finds Caitlin’s long forgotten diary, she wonders will it tell the whole tale? Will it tell why Caitlin seemed so determined to tell the difference between reality and nightmare? Why she thought her world twisted? If she really became a witch?

Perhaps the answer lies between the lines of her story, one of lessons, struggles, and hopes for each new year.

What truths will her Book of Shadows reveal?

**This is a side (or supplemental, if you will) story in the Antique Magic series, a companion to The Artist’s Inheritance (Antique Magic, Book One).

Thanks, Tammie Clarke Gibbs, for inviting me to participate in the Share an Excerpt event. 🙂

*(The spacing’s coming out weird on the published post. Sorry about that.)

Get to know the author–my interview with Geoff Wakeling

Well, to clarify a bit, we switched sides of the table and Geoff is interviewing me this time. We’re talking about my favorite superheroes, my books and …well, just a lot of things. You can find our chat here:  Do stop by and say hello!

Meanwhile, I’ve got some Mexican Petunias to plant. I’ll take some pictures soon….I can’t wait to see if these survive. I had some a few years ago that….but wait. That’s a story for Friday, isn’t it? 😉 Anyway, I hope you all have a good day, and enjoy the interview–and the Hobbit trailer. *bounce* Can’t wait!