The fragrance of fennel always takes me to Southern California . . . to the untamed hillside of my parents’ home. It was years ago now, where my mother and father landed after a lifetime of soaking up maritime fog . . . where my dad spent his last years with a suntan, a smile and a view to the Pacific. That hillside rippled — with waves of swaying wildflowers and fennel sprigs. Lizards, raccoons, blackbirds and garter snakes sheltered in place under the scrub and shade of fennel stalks.

Leaning over the bluff against an onshore wind was like crushing a bottle of fennel perfume under the nostrils. At sunset, the black cat and his adopted kittens collected on the lip of the canyon to watch the sun go down. Every night was a curtain call for the sun . . . if only she knew. And under the moonrise, the scent of fennel fused itself to the aroma of jasmine, and together they painted memories on summer nights.

Here’s a photographic tribute to the phases of fennel and those beings who stir in its buds.

Fennel bud

Fennel bud

Fennel leaves

Fennel bloom

Bee on Fennel Flower

Fennel Flower

Park Bench Overgrown with Fennel
Goldfinch in fennel

Dry Fennel Flower

red-winged blackbird on fennel stalk

birds perched on fennel stalks