Petroselinum crispum

Curly parsley

Parsley (ht 30 cm) is one of the most basic herbs and is used in many cuisines all over the world. There are two basic types: curled and Italian (the so-called flat-leaved variety - Petroselinum crispum var neapolitanum - which has a stronger flavour). Parsley is also a decorative garden plant in its own right with its lush green leaves, and it can form an effective border to taller plantings. It is a biennial herb (it may behave as an annual in very warm areas) with a rosette of divided leaves.

Flowers of parsley

In its second year it produces a tall flower stalk comprised of a flat, open umbel of many tiny greenish-white or greenish-yellow blooms, followed by small brown seeds. The flowers are very attractive to beneficial insects in the garden so try to leave a few of these stalks on the plants rather than cutting them all off! Where parsley is happy, it will self-seed if you do this. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil and enjoys regular feeding. Where the soil is too dry, it may run to seed sooner. Seeds take a while to germinate - up to four or more weeks, so be patient - or buy seedlings in a punnet!