Garden Photo of the Day

Barbara’s garden in Connecticut, in praise of Angelica gigas

Like a greeting committee, there stands a squadron of tall Angelica by my door. I have measured them up to 90" tall! Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Barbara Curtiss

Todays’ photos are from Barbara Curtiss in Kent, Connecticut. We’ve visited Barbara’s garden before (refresh your memory HERE), and we love how she and her husband have collaborated on their landscape, but today she wants to share her single most favorite plant.

A. gigas, dark purple flowers up to 6″ across, like a dark Queen Ann’s lace. Biennial, so their first year they are little plants that look a bit like celery. When they flower they are usually covered with bees, creating a hum where they are densely planted.

She says, “I garden three acres in Kent, Connecticut, and have purchased just about every Zone 5, deer resistant plant there is, but my hands-down favorite is Angelica gigas. I wish I could send 50 photos…there are so many stunning combinations that they have found by themselves! They’re extraordinarily generous with seeds; willing to grow in sun, shade, dry or moist; aren’t invasive; look great in any color combination; and reach their splendor when most other flowers are already a memory of the year.

So vertical, like a giraffe’s neck!

“It is the most asked-about plant I have–it literally stops cars on the road, and few people are familiar with them. Why are they so unknown? I can’t imagine. Come by Sculpturedale in October and I’ll give you a thousand seeds so you can have them spice up your garden.”

Under a magnolia. See how the branches and stalk parallel their curves.

I love this plant, too, Barbara, but have never grown it. I may have to stop by for some seeds…… Thanks!

Llama apparently don’t eat angelica. ‘Lemon Daddy’ hydrangea, line of quince and peonies have long since given up their color in this spot, making the appearance of handsome angelica much welcomed in late August.

—-Winter is the perfect time to take a photographic stroll through the photos you took in your garden this year……and then send some in to me at [email protected]!

In midst of Autumn Joy, yellow pagoda dogwood behind.
With rose of Sharon ‘Fiji’
Interlaced with pots of Hosta ‘Fort Knox’ and caladium on side of potting shed.
Even pops up in an annual bed. With its dark color, angelica really can combine with any color combination, as seen here with bright red.
Popping up in a shady border, amid Japanese painted fern, pulmonaria, astilbe.
Under peach tree (teenie peaches, but tasty). Did you know that angelica is edible? I found a recipe for “Home-Candied Angelica” at, which starts off “The most important thing about candying angelica is to choose stalks that are young and tender. In other words, angelica is only worth candying in April or May when the shoots are new and softly coloured.” It goes on to tell how to poach in sugar and then dry in the oven. Ends up with “Wrap and store after cooling. Packed into pretty little boxes, home-candied angelica makes a charming present.” Anyone tried it?
Nice with a dark canna, too

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  1. perenniallycrazy 01/28/2014

    Wow, Barbara, I can see why it's your favorite. Do they make good cutflowers as well? I'll be sure to keep an eye out for Angelica at the nurseries this year. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to seeing your garden and hearing your garden thoughts again.

  2. user-1020932 01/28/2014

    i have seen this plant at least twice recently here on gpod but have never seen it grown here in Tennessee, that might have to change this year! if i stopped by Sculpturedale for seeds i would also have to leave with that giraffe

  3. GardeningRocks 01/28/2014

    A striking plant! Thank you for sharing, I think I will have to try this one!

  4. Sculpturedale 01/28/2014

    Nope. Not good as a cut flower, that's it's one downfall. The stem goes into an immediate wilt.

  5. flowerladydi 01/28/2014

    I was JUST reading an article about this plant last night!,,, and here you are!!
    It is fabulous!,,, and I am for sure going to try it! Your combo's are great Barbara!,,, and LOVE your ' animals ' ! All so much fun!!!

  6. GardenGrl1 01/28/2014

    I've never seen this plant before!

    Unfortunately, I'm too far away to stop by in October, but I will now embark on an internet journey to find those seeds!

    I look forward to many more photos of your beautiful garden.

  7. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/28/2014

    This plant has been on my list for years, but I had no idea it had such a late bloom time. Seeing the bumblebees clustered on the flowers is certainly a selling point to me. Thank for sharing a favorite!

  8. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/28/2014

    What a statuesque beauty...kind of like a tall runway model showing up among us mere mortals. In a way, it reminds me of taller, darker flowered Verbena Bonariensis with its generosity of reseeding and being an insect magnet. I love its deep maroon colored stems.
    Barbara, your entertaining commentary was a wonderful companion for these great pictures. And, of course, those fantastic sculptures makes yours one of the most memorable gardens shared here on gpod since I've been a viewer.

  9. greengenes 01/28/2014

    Thanks Barbara for sharing these beautiful pics! I was just looking at this plant in an online nursery. You have put the final decision upon my wallet! Its so nice to be able to share with others your love of plants. I really enjoyed seeing the sculptures too. They are quite a bit of talent and work in making those! Wish I had a plazma cutter! I love the color of your house with angelica next to it. Nice color combination.

  10. tractor1 01/28/2014

    A stately plant that might do well in my wildflower meadow. From reading I've discovered it's a biennial, that needs sowing in subsequent years to have flowering specimens each year. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing this plant.

  11. mainer59 01/28/2014

    I love your creative thought process in choosing the photos. I don't think anyone else has ever featured 1 plant in every photo. And what a plant it is! Like others who posted today, I think I have just the spot for it and should add it to my 2014 wish list.

  12. quinquek 01/28/2014

    Why have I never heard of this plant? Although I have a vague memory of candied Angelica. What lovely combinations, and what fantastic sculpture! This is certainly going to go in the garden. Thanks!

  13. cwheat000 01/28/2014

    I'm with greengenes, I love the your house color with the Angelica. In fact, I love your whole property. It has that quintessential Connecticut garden feel. The angelica does look great with everything, even the peach tree. I think you have given me a color inspiration for my containers next season- peach and near black. (I have to limit myself or I go crazy.) Luv it en masse with the giraffe. I like how you have used very generous amounts of each variety, like the Japanese painted fern. It looks like there are many unique specimens hiding at Sculpturedale, like the yellow pagoda dogwood. I have no excuse not to visit next season, living just a few miles away,and especially now that you have offered free seeds! I usually have tons of nasturtium, iris, echinacea, cosmo, and other seeds by October if you could use any. On a different note, what do you do to get such nice peaches? I have had a nectarine tree for 3 or 4 seasons now. It looked like I was going to get dozens of nice fruits last season, then mid season they all shriveled and got moldy.

  14. cwheat000 01/28/2014

    Meander 1 has given me a vision. A large group of just Verbena bonariensis and Angelica would be stunning!

  15. user-1020932 01/28/2014

    carla, underplant with some mexican feather grass or Muhly grass too!

  16. user-7006902 01/28/2014

    I am always attracted to this plant and now I must try growing although Z5 is not quite hardy enough - especially this winter! Never know until you try ...

  17. cwheat000 01/28/2014

    Awesome vision tntreeman. Awesome!

  18. cwheat000 01/28/2014

    That planting tntreeman, reminds me of something Piet Oudolf would do.

  19. annek 01/28/2014

    I love angelica gigas! It reminds me of Angelica Huston...tall, dark, handsome. I planted several a few years ago, but they didn't seem to reseed. You're lovely beds and the color palettes are my inspiration to look for more. Thanks for the look into your gardens!

  20. user-1020932 01/28/2014

    carla if you're going to implement a vision you might as well make it groovy :)

  21. Quiltingmamma 01/28/2014

    Lovely combinations. Nice to have a plant that is reliable everywhere.
    I think we may have all eaten candied angelica in our time....or at least in Canada. It is a common part of the mixed candied fruit used for Christmas and mixed fruit wedding cakes. I wasn't cooking Christmas cakes when I lived in US, but here, you can buy a pre mixed container of candied includes angelica. Pale greenish white, no skin or peel showing.

  22. cwheat000 01/28/2014

    So that's one of the mystery "fruits" in fruitcake!

  23. GrannyMay 01/28/2014

    Love the look of your Angelica Barbara! I can see why you love it and grow it everywhere! It is stunning with your giraffe and by your house.

    Anything that is deer resistant always grabs my attention so I decided to research it further. I discovered that apparently not all the species of angelica are edible and some may cause dermatitis or sun sensitivity of the skin, so be careful till you know the characteristics of whichever species you prefer.

    Angelica archangelica has a long history of cultivation for use as a medicine, flavouring agent and vegetable. The roots and seeds of Angelica archangelica are used to flavour liqueurs such as Bénédictine and Chartreuse. Who knew?

  24. user-1020932 01/28/2014

    may, i am crazy, i saw your comment Angelica Barbara and did a google search thinking it was yet another variety. i'm slow but i eventually come up to speed

  25. GrannyMay 01/28/2014

    Jeff, I guess a comma would have helped. Sorry to cause you anxiety that you might have missed another fabulous plant!

  26. satisfaction 01/28/2014

    Love those angelica and they do look great against the color of your home! I too have grown them for years and most visitors have not seen them. I'm jealous over the my Zone 4 gardens I've had seven feet max. No, they aren't good for a cut flower when in bloom. However for dried arrangements, leave them dry on the stem, catch them before the seeds drop, hold a bag under the seed heads and tap them until most seeds have dropped into the bag, then cut. The stem doesn't flop and seeds aren't where you don't want them. We have spray painted what's left of the seed head and they're lovely. Try spraying them gold for Christmas arrangements.

  27. user-1020932 01/28/2014

    anxiety, no excitement with yet another possibility, yes

  28. GrannyMay 01/28/2014

    Actually Jeff, probably there is someone, somewhere, who is creating an angelica cultivar named "Barbara".

  29. satisfaction 01/28/2014

    I saw the comment from thevioletfern. I believe Angelica 'Gigas' is biennial and will self-seed very well here in Zone 4 so should do well for you.

  30. sheila_schultz 01/28/2014

    Angelica had a familiar ring to it but I couldn't place it until Quiltingmamma brought up fruitcake and GrannyMay mentioned the liquors. Strangely enough, I've never noticed the flower. It's on the list to try now, what a beauty! Thanks Barbara!

  31. wildthyme 01/28/2014

    Love the Angelicas, but alas we're a zone too cold here in SW MT. Self-seeding means they'd come back, but if they're biennial I might not get blooms. Buuuuuuut, I'm thinking of a sheltered spot with a lot of mulch where they might overwinter. They're nice enough to try! Thanks, Barbara for sharing.

  32. GrannyCC 01/28/2014

    What a beautiful plant. At one time I had a large herb garden and I grew an Angelica but it had a white flower. It grew about 8 inches tall. Loved it! I used the stalks in cooked rhubarb as the theory was you wouldn't need as much sugar as it is quite sweet. I think it worked. Not sure if this is true of your Angelica, Barbara. This has inspired me to grow it again. Thanks for the gorgeous look at another aspect of your garden.

  33. CJgardens 01/28/2014

    Thanks for sharing your Angelica photos. It is beautiful in so many different combinations. I planted my first angelica gigas last summer after seeing it in photos of Ann's MN garden. Did not realize it is a biennial and looks like celery the first year. Now I know what to look for this spring (if mine reseeded) and won't be disappointed when it doesn't bloom the first year. You have inspired me to add it to other locations.
    Your gardens and sculptures are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

  34. PamWittenberg 01/28/2014

    Oh my, oh my, oh my...must find some seeds! I have a thousand perfect spots for it! Thanks so much for sharing!

  35. PeonyFan 01/28/2014

    Thanks for the great photos! I love Angelica gigas but you have done more with this plant than anyone I know. Kudos!

  36. wGardens 01/29/2014

    Very much enjoyed the posts today... kinda fun to see one plant featured in so many settings! Great against the house... what a nice marriage. And, of course.... LOVE the sculptures.... if I only could add one to my gardens......

  37. briandowns 01/29/2014

    You're good!

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