Coming out of Hastings station car park today I caught sight of a fine stand of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and stopped to take a snap out of the car window.
The flowers are very attractive to a wide range of insects (grow them with one of the taller varieties of mint in a herb garden and you will have a wonderful insect party on sunny days when both are in flower).
The leaves and seeds can, of course, be used in a wide range of recipes and herbal teas.
Fennel is not a native British plant but hails from the Mediterranean. However, it has been happily established here probably since Roman times.
I have read that it inhibits the growth of other plants, but there is clearly a large number of perfectly healthy plants growing next to it here, so I take it that it does not normally, if ever, have this quality.
It seems a fitting sort of plant to have seen on the day the Olympic torch arrives in Hastings. A stately species originating from the Mediterranean and mixing well with other plants. It even seems to be approaching the fence as a kind of high jump. Apropos of the Olympics, our eight year old granddaughter on being told that the Olympic flame was transported by coach from place to place, was concerned that the vehicle might go on fire. A blazing bus would certainly be a newsworthy story.