Bulbing fennel, known as both Florence Fennel and Finnochio, deserves a home in every garden. Not only do the bulbs make a sweet, mildly-flavored, positively gourmet treat, but they're also beautiful: the swollen, celadon bases burst vertically into a mist of fine-leaved, breeze-blown stems, providing airiness and brightness and shape.
Like many of our garden crops, its origins lie in the Mediterranean basin, and most recipes for fennel come from Italian cuisine. Raw, chopped fennel adds a celery-like crunch and licorice flavor to salads, or fennel can be cooked until soft and meltingly delicious. It is most abundant in mid-summer, which explains its popularity as a grilled vegetable (yum!).