The Fennel had a hard time this year. Park management’s mowing machines massacred some of its best stands and opened the gates for an invasion of Italian thistles, followed by the almost equally aggressive Bristly Oxtongue. The Fennel hasn’t recovered completely. In a good year, it presents a massive, impenetrable front of robust stalks surrounded by a delicate froth of tender green fingers, all topped by great heaps of golden fragrant blooms. In its glory the fennel dominates the earth, the sky, and the air. When you walk through it, it embraces you, seduces you, and floats you into a different universe. You dream dreams of Mediterranean palaces, olive-skinned people dancing on beaches, enchanting birdsong, and bowls running over with fresh exotic fruits. Quite possibly its chemistry modifies human consciousness. The Fennel in the park today isn’t there yet, and may not rise to the full splendor of which it’s capable, but here and there some individual plants give a small clue as to what’s possible, like this one.