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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Autumn Seeds: The Bridge To Spring

One of the most interesting things about the fall season is the ability to observe the transformation from lush flowers and foliage to seed heads and dried leaves that flutter on the wind. It's the beginning and the end of two gardening seasons for many plants. The seeds are the bridge that will reach across the gap and bring us a fresh new spring.

The autumn seeds of an aptly named 'Autumn Joy' Sedum have transformed into chocolate brown seeds. It was well pollinated by the bumble bees and will come back larger each year with a greater display.



This Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' or Zebra grass is back lit by the afternoon sun. The seed plumes of ornamental grasses are one its most valuable features. It pains me to see ornamental grasses pruned short in the fall (as is commonly done in commercial landscapes) when their winter interest is so great. If you want winter interest ornamental grasses are a very good way to go.



The birds are just as likely to enjoy the seed heads of the rudbeckia as we are. The seeds will self sow each year bringing more plants and consequently more flowers. This particular plant thrived in our rain garden which helps to absorb the excess water from our driveway. I planted a few plants into it but mostly allowed zinnias and rudbeckias to take over by sprinkling seed in the spring. I have plans to improve it for next year but I'll save that for another time!






Here's an interesting specimen. I was pulling out the dead basil and dropped it temporarily into a large pot that was nearby. Rather than move it to the compost bin I thought I would leave it for a while to add some contrast to our winter landscape. Even though it's brown and dead it gives the eye something to gaze upon when everything is bare.


12 comments :

  1. I really must try to get some ornamental grasses soon. I've been admiring them in other's gardens, especially in the fall.

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  2. Seed heads are great for winter interest...Now a little bit of snow cover would make them all cozy underneath and lovely...You know just on the garden beds!

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  3. That Basil in the pot looks lovely. What a great idea. It looks like it should be there.

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  4. Good idea with the basil! Maybe the seeds will drop into the bucket?

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  5. Hi Dave, well done and the title is catchy! You have made a good case for leaving the seedheads, they keep the view interesting while the plants are napping. I too love the basil in the pot, that is inspired!

    Frances

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  6. Amy,

    They are great! Low maintenance and high interest are two qualities that make an excellent plant for the garden.

    Gail,

    You're ready for snow already? I'll wait until December to hope for it. Snow around Dec. 24-25th sounds perfect!

    Lola,

    It was purely random but I thought it looked neat! I've got the ginger in a pot indoors so hopefully it will work out! Thanks again for the plants!

    Tina,

    If they do then I can sprinkle them all over the deer territories. They'll love that!

    Frances,

    Thanks! Seed heads are for the birds. Well and us too I guess! ;)

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  7. Seeds are the bridge to spring all right...and magical. First, you see them. Then, you don't. Then, voilĂ , a new plant.
    Donna

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  8. Dave, you are the first person I know that grows dead stuff! lol Now that is classic but I do see the beauty as you :)

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  9. I like your expression of seeds being a bridge to spring. I'd never thought of them that way!

    Globe basil does indeed present a wonderful image with its seed heads.

    Winter interest is one reason I chose several varieties for various locations in our gardens.

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  10. Very interesting. Question, how do you collect the seeds from the Autumn Joy Sedum? Mine feel all mushy. Thanks.

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  11. Mother Nature,

    The fact that something so small can make something so much larger definitely seems magical!

    Skeeter,

    Growing dead stuff! That's a new one! ;)

    Kylee,

    Four season gardening is one of my goals for our landscape. The three easy seasons are mostly covered but that winter one always presents challenges! That's why I really like the red twig dogwoods and crape myrtles for their unique barks. Birches are good too, but anything unique can have a place!

    Lynn,

    Good question! The easiest thing to do is clip the dried seed head and drop it where you want them to go. Another way would be to gather the dried seed heads on a dry afternoon then let them dry for a couple days inside. Run the seed head through a screen with a paper towel underneath to catch the seeds. The screen will help remove the chaff from the seeds. Then do your best to sort the seeds from the bits of dust and debris that float through. It's not really necessary to get all of it separated for storage. I hope that helps! I'll be doing a bit of this tomorrow.

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  12. The seedheads & grasses really do add some winter interest Dave. I love the way the look with snow of them too.

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