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Across the Garden Gate

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

More Than Just

a Pretty Face

I am and always have been a forager, beggar, thief, buyer, saver, and sower of seeds. I gather seeds wherever I find them, and why not? They are an investment in my garden and maybe yours. They save me money, which is always a good thing, and it's also just a lot of fun. Not many things give me as much pleasure as seeing a seed germinate. Each seed is a tiny miracle that holds unlimited potential and possibility, but it's not just what they do and how they do it that interests me, it's also what they look like and how they are housed. Look at the Datura seed pod above (Muséum de Toulouse, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.) I swear, some of these seed housings and their seeds are every bit as interesting and beautiful as the colorful flowers they produce or the food they provide.

While I marvel at the various colors and shapes of seeds, I like to examine the receptacles that hold them. One of the most interesting seed displays I have ever seen is that of Asclepias incarnata (Milkweed). If you have this plant in your garden or know where to find it, make a point to visit that spot when the seed pod has dried and has just split open but before the seeds sprout "wings" and are ushered by the wind to new ground. (Photo USFWS Mountain-Prairie, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons). The rich brown seeds are nestled closely together but fanned out just slightly like a deck of cards. Sure, it might take a few trips until you get the timing just right, but you are sure to be bedazzled by what you find. Here it is the first of December, and I'm already dreaming of next year and all of the seed pods that await. We have a lot to look forward to next year, you and I, but why wait?

It's not too late to go exploring for seed pods in your neck of the woods. I took this photo of Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan) on December 4. Can you spot the seeds still intact? This is just one example of how a plant can be beautiful until the bitter end. A flower is more than just a pretty face, you know, and "it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings" springs to mind. (Photo property of Violetsblew)

My "Blue Bird" Rose of Sharon is still holding tight to its seeds on December 5. There's no need to collect them, even though they are easy to germinate, because they reliably self-seed from year to year. There are "those" who consider these volunteers a nuisance, but they are easy enough to pull up: just bend over and then slightly tug. Go on, try it. It will do you a world of good. (Photo property of Violetsblew)

Any idea what this is? Guess again. It's Silphium perfoliatum (Cup Plant). It looks like a painting to me, and I think I like it better than the golden ray flowers it held a few months ago. (Photo property of Violetsblew)

I was happy to see that the Aconitum (Monkshood) seed pods were not damaged by the big freeze a few weeks ago. This will be the first time in a few years that there will be seeds to sow. (Photo property of Violetsblew)

I felt as if I had discovered gold when I saw that my Japanese Iris seed pods were still in flux. Take a look. (Photos property of Violetsblew)

As you have probably surmised, I could go on and on about seeds, and I usually do. I have lots more to say on the subject, and I will. You can bet on it.

(Left to right: Rudbeckia subtomentosa, (Sweet Black-Eyed Susan); Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot); Althaea officinalis (Marsh Mallow) (Photos property of Violetsblew)

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