IALL BUT FORGET THE SO-CALLED HAIRY CHERVIL, or at least I do until Garden Open Days in May or early June, when everyone asks what the pink thing is “over there,” pointing out front. Despite a dozen years of total neglect, Chaerophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’ always shows off for company; to pay it back for such loyalty I promised the sweet thing a portrait as a plant I’d order (if I didn’t already have it). Here we go:
Truth be told, I cannot even usually recall its name at those moments, an embarrassing thing when you are hosting garden tours. Nor did I know that it had a “common” name, let along two (the other being pink cow parsnip, apparently).
I’d never gotten up close and personal enough with this lovely plant all these years to notice if it’s really apple-scented the way the references all say it is. (I just went out and took a whiff, and I say no. Smells to this nose like parsley, or something else green; no apples here.)
What this little umbellifer of about 2 feet tall in bloom does have is good ferny foliage (not unlike its namesake chervil, or Anthriscus cerefolium, but much bigger), and the fact that even in a semi-shaded spot it will make a great show of off-pink flowerheads that have the slightest touch of lavender. They coincide here with many perennial geraniums, like Geranium phaeum and G. macrorrhizum, and the doublefile viburnums, if that gives you a better idea of timing.
A sunny border would be a good home, too, and newly conscious of my forgotten treasure, I am now going to divide and relocate some.
C.h. ‘Roseum’ has been called a Great Plant Pick by the Elisabeth Carey Miller Botanical Garden (if you don’t know their archive of Great Plant Picks, it’s a helpful list whether you live out that way or not). Chaerophyllum is a darling across the ocean, too, I learned while clicking about and landing at this blog, where I was then directed to another site to meet some of the other “cow parsleys”–all its cousins.
It is said to be hardy to only Zone 6, but I’m in 5B and it has lived here with me unfaltering maybe 15 years. In all my reading I learned that Chaerophyllum naturalizes freely for other gardeners, though my neglected specimen, perhaps sulking in protest, has never moved an inch nor sown itself. Can all be forgiven, dear plant? Can we start over?