This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Cow Parsley - Fan or Foe

This time of year the weeds are like invaders that seem to strategically begin to take over the garden. My garden weapons in hand, spade & hoe, I fight them endlessly, winning in some cases and losing in others.

I've every weed you can imagine in the garden (I might even hold the national collection), from dandelion, nettle, buttercup, chickweed, willowherb,  and even the dreaded horsetail (so far contained to a certain area). As I've a large garden I've let some areas stay as wildlife areas and I let nettles and cow parsley do their thing. However, every Spring armies of weeds seem to be coming at me from all directions, kind of like the board game 'Risk' I used to play as a child. The object of 'Risk' (developed by a Frenchman) is to use your armies to take over and control territories, the winner taking over the most areas. Similarly the weeds are definitely coming at me from all sides, creeping in from all directions, taking over my garden territories. My battle continues, but every year I give in a little, resulting in more wildlife areas within the garden, which I tell myself is a good thing.

Pictured: cow parsley - isn't it gorgeous! Boy, does it multiply and grow quickly. Easy enough to pull or dig out, but hundreds of these plants aren't much fun to control organically.

There are domesticated versions of cow parsley for the garden such as Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing and I assume it behaves a little better than the hedgerow type of cow parsley. Many of the garden designs at the Chelsea Flower Show featured cow parsley (or domesticated versions). Dare I add it to the flower borders? With these thoughts, I'm off to the garden to do some weeding...

What's your most invasive weed?

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.


  1. Funny! I remember Risk; we used to play it a lot at school. I suppose it taught some boys how to take over the world. Did I tell you I was at Oxford with Tony Blair? I bet he played Risk...
    If I were you I wouldn't put Cow Parsley into the ornamental borders. It would surely take over.

  2. I am definitely a fan. many wild flowers/ weeds are beautiful like dog daisy and field poppy to name just two more. I've actually grown dog daisies this year from seed and planted in my cut flower patch.

  3. Bind weed aka morning glory and Canadian thistle, a really nasty invasive weed, both perennials. We do use the much reviled round up because digging only encourages root systems to grow more. Cow parsley is found here in the wild, but dad always told me that it was poisonous to live stock, though we do not have it here. The rest of the weed population, we pull, trying to control it be before it gets out go control as it did this year. I do like your analogy of Risk.

  4. I'm definitely a fan I love the frothy nature of it. I seem to be suffering an invasion of goosegrass I have no idea where it has come from & of course the dreaded bind weed which I am slowly bringing under control.

  5. Maybe I am in denial, but I don't know many weed names and just sort of look the other way where they are concerned! The cow parsley reminds me of Queen Anne's lace which I think is a seems to come up on its own everywhere, but it is quite lovely and looks great in flower arrangements. It does harbor "chiggers", which causes a rash and itches like everything.

  6. I do love cow parsley and sometimes cut some for the vases around the house. My 'weed' if you can call it that, is some mint that my son planted 12 years ago - a nightmare!! It has taken up two areas of garden and if you leave the tiniest piece it comes back even more. Take care x

  7. I'm growing a very similar plant called ammi majus this year that I don't think will be invasive at all. But your cow parsley is so pretty I'd leave a few clumps. Our biggest weed is tree seedlings and sometimes poison ivy, a native vine that causes horrible blisters and skin irritation. Most people are highly allergic to it. I garden organically but as soon as I saw the poison ivy, I pulled out the strongest chemical I could buy. It's really nasty stuff.

  8. I think cow parsley can look gorgeous in floral arrangements, it compliments other flowers so well.