21 November 2008

the art of seeds

Despite the fact that the past several days have brought us about six inches of snow, I'm going to pretend that it's not happened. So let's talk about seeds and play a bit of a game with them. 

I am always fascinated by the way the seedheads and fruits show themselves to be such works of artistry. Maybe they don't have the flamboyance of flowers or richly coloured foliage, but in their own way, they are beauty for another season. We leave a lot of them stand well into the winter, or until such time as seeds are depleted and stalks have tumbled.

Seedheads, with or without the seeds still in them, are pleasing by their geometry, and I'm happy watching birds feasting on them-thought I seldom manage to catch a good photo of a birds dining...

I took this photo a few weeks ago, obviously, so the seeds aren't yet ripened; do they look familiar to you?

I've cut stems of this particular perennial in the past and pushed them into Oasis floral foam, fitted into a terra cotta pot along with several other types of seedheads; I like the deep rich colour--do you know this plant?

I think a lot of people never see these seedheads, because they cut the flower stalks off before the plants bloom, seeming to think the flowers detract from the glorious foliage. Well, if you've ever smelled the fragrance of one of the scented cultivars...or watched hummingbirds dipping into the flowers...you'd never cut them off again.

This particular rose is considered invasive in many parts of North America, but I watch hordes of waxwings descent on it and it makes me glad of each plant's purpose around our property.

One of the most interesting perennials in our garden is this relative of bachelor buttons. It boasts huge flowers and remarkable seedheads, and then these golden seeds tumble out with the wind.

Another plant that often people don't see, because they cut the stems back once flowers are spent. Not all of them form such neat pods, but we always keep some around the garden until they collapse in the snow.

The autumn winds have whipped the leaves from many perennials, trees and shrubs here on the hill, but remarkably, this shrub holds not only its seedheads, but still most of its leaves. If you don't recognize it, don't blame yourself--it's nt the best of photos, because I was getting cold...

This particular cultivar covers itself in the delightful, bearded seedheads but soon they will be stripped by the breezes and flung to the cardinal directions. Meanwhile, other cultivars are not only still covered in foliage, but still flowering!

This is one of the best perennials in the garden, blooming for a long time and being a great magnet for butterflies, hummingbirds, honeybirds and other beneficial creatures. We did get a bit of mildew this year, a first for it, but that is a minor flaw in our garden.

I've shown both flowers and seedheads of this plant before, a favourite in this garden for its fragrance; I wish that the plant multiplied more quickly, or that it was even easier to find; nursery operators tell me that it's expensive and difficult for them to get. I haven't tried growing it from seed, because I dont' grow much from seed--something I plan to change in the future.

Some of these have relinquished their seeds, others are holding on; and my favourite was still producing flowers as recently as three weeks ago, until a definite cold snap sent it into seasonal sulking mode. Sort of like me. 

And this is one of those plants that is problematic in other parts of North America, like the rose above; I don't have trouble with it because I keep it pruned and out of trees, using the prunings to make wreaths, and enjoying watching birds snacking on the fruit until winter's advent.

These are a few of the more intriguing seedheads in our garden--how many did YOU recognize? I'm sure you've all got interesting seedheads too, and probably many of you are better at saving seeds than I am. That's a story for another day, though. 


  1. I love this post. You're so right - seed heads have their own understated beauty, if we would only look closely. I've left all my plants standing in the front garden along the walkway. I can't bear to cut them down. Even brown and dry, there's something beautiful about them.

  2. Oh Oh, Miss Jodi, I know one, the lily. We let our seed heads develop this year, well on everything really because we cut NOTHING down following Piet's advice. I am trying to get the lilies to grow in the greenhouse and outside as an experiment from seed. Glad to see that it won't harm the flowering for next year. The books all say to not let them go to seed.


  3. Let's see...I see Hosta, Daylily, Helenium, Echinacea, Sedum, and a couple others that we have in our gardens, but I can't put a name on them at the moment.

    I loved this post because I love seed heads!

  4. Gorgeous photo essay on seeds, jodi. I often find it hard to resist dead-heading my plants but you have inspired me to let them be and enjoy this wonderful show too. Kudos.

  5. Seed pods and heads are wonderful. I used to know a woman who crafted folk dolls out of them. There is no marvel like nature.

  6. Great pictures Jodi !
    I find seedheads fascinating too .. I think it all ties into the Autumn/Halloween ? thing for me ? LOL .. no, really there is something about them that demands attention from me .. not sure what .. maybe just the pure wonder and amazement of how nature works.

  7. Seeds are quite lovely I agree...It has always been my practice to let them be until the spring...it made good garden sense. But it wasn't until blogging that I really looked closely at them and noticed how beautiful they all can be.


  8. Great post, jodi! I recognize a few of these seed heads, but can't put a proper name to most of them. But they're beautiful, none the less. You've demonstrated once again that every season, every stage of the garden, has its own beauty.

  9. Hi Jodi,

    Like you, I and everyone else who posted a comment we seem to enjoy the seeds heads and pods of many plants. I believe a couple that were not mentioned are that fall blooming white clematis, a white rose and a peonie...just to mention a couple more! Hopefully you will let us know.
    I look forward to your next great shots!

  10. I'm crazy about seedheads and all manner of the understated finds in a garden, or field, or forest - nature overall. Fun post, dear.

  11. I am glad to hear you went ahead and let your black eyed Susans seeds stay on for the birds, even though they had mildew. One of my patches did, too, and I never cut it back. We don't have snow like you do, so I still could if I remembered to research it.

    I like your pics.

  12. I love all your images of seedheads, they have a beauty of their own...and represent the next generation for the gardener.

  13. jodi, great photos! i love the death in autumn, with the promise of life inside!


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