Umbels is the word horticulturalists use to describe plants that are mainly in the umbelliferae family (now Apiaceae ) with flowers that are composed of hundreds of individual florets held in flattened cloud-like discs. Their intricate structures always reward closer inspection. Insects like them too and they are some of the best flowers for attracting hoverflies, bees and other insect allies in the summer and late summer and autumn garden.
Apiaceae, the carrot family, is a huge family of annual, biennial and perennial plants with a global distribution, Apiaceae is characterised by its distinctive inflorescence - the umbel, which gave the family its former name of Umbelliferae. From familiar foods, such as carrot and parsnip, to the striking architecture of the ornamental Eryngium and Bupleurum, to toxic and invasive weeds like Giant Hogweed, the family is rich in variety and uses.
Our Plantsman's collection of Architectural Umbels includes some of the most unusual and yet easy to grow varieties for that exotic or architectural look.
Eryngium pandanifolium 'Physic Purple'
A ‘must have’ plant for all those who love architectural plants. This one is not for the feint hearted or those with small spaces. The Eryngo produces large prickled sword leaves in an upright rosette to 85cm, above which in autumn branched heads of maroon flower clusters are produced on huge open branched upright stems reaching over 2m in height. Flowers from September to December. The attractive foliage is evergreen but can be damaged in our severest winters. Otherwise the species is hardy.
Angelica Vicar's Mead
A very striking variety with the purple foliage and to compliment the foliage it has unusually for the genus, pink flowers. A must have plant. Height to 60cm.
From the mountains of central and southern Europe comes this large and ornamental, strongly aromatic perennial plant. It has handsome and decorative, shiny, long-pointed, fern-like foliage and bears in late spring large numbers of yellow turning cream flowers. This is a plant that certainly has WOW factor. It will really draw attention to your garden and it is well worth learning to get your tongue around the name.A rather stout perennial Umbel of considerable architectural value. Attaining a height of 100-150cm, with large elegant leaves consisting of many much divided leaflets, below the large compound umbels of yellow turning cream flowers. Best in part shade in a drained moisture retentive preferably neutral to acid soil. The very filigreed highly varnished foliage does die down quite early so don’t be too alarmed when in late summer the foliage starts to turn. It is found growing wild in the Alps and Pyrenees. In the Eastern Pyrenees , the young leaves and stems are used in the preparation of liqueurs or eaten fresh in salads.Ligusticum scoticum
Ligusticum scoticum or Scotch Lovage is a compact, upright, clump-forming perennial with thick, glossy, green leaves divided into three, broad, toothed leaflets and, in summer, dark purple or red-flushed stems bearing umbels of tiny, white, sometimes pale pink flowers followed by golden seed heads.
Selinum wallichianum rises later in the spring than most perennials. But, once it is ready to re-grow, it spreads out its basal leaves to form mats of fine foliage. Each leaf is intricately divided. Strong ribbed stems then start to push up, heavily endowed with more fretted leaves, making tiered layers of lace. The stems branch but the tiered effect is maintained. During late summer, the flower buds emerge, inverted and cradled by the supporting pinky-bronze stems. Each flower head becomes a plateau composed of a number of smaller florets, which in turn are made up of a myriad of tiny flowers.
Eryngium eburneum is a very exotic looking Eryngium sea holly which provides excellent bold form and texture to the garden. Resembles a Yucca when not in flower as it forms the same dense clumps of neat, narrow, sword-shaped, spiny but not too painful leaves! In late spring it begins to form tall stems which carry branching heads tipped with thimble shaped clusters of white flowers. Easy to grow. Prefers full sun with moist but well drained soil. Tender in frost. Height 1.5m, spread 0.6m.