Thursday, January 23, 2014
Specifically, Seed Heads
Today's post could very well have been tacked onto last weeks post...but it was already so long, I decided it could be a follow-up of sorts. Even as a kid I was kind of fascinated by the gone-over remains of flowers...their spare, gothic beauty...and, of course, the fact that they contained next years crop. Growing up, my parents had a huge yard, and we were poor, so I planted almost everything from seed...which made gathering seeds each fall a big part of my gardening year. Luckily, I loved it...it never felt like work...especially when I realized that a single seed head contained as many seeds (if not more) than the packets I had bought that spring.
These days, I have a tiny garden and barely grow anything from seed (what would I do with all the extra plants)!?! However, I still love seed heads...and in winter they provide enormous interest in the garden.
This is the same plant as above...it's fascinating to watch seed heads deteriorate over the winter.
Those of you who grow this Rudbeckia (R. triloba) know how important it is to leave the stems standing over winter...
...not only is their warm, chocolate color beautiful, but you rely on them spreading seeds for future generations of plants. Rudbeckia triloba isn't exactly biennial, but it's definitely short-lived...and without new seedlings, it would soon disappear from my garden.
Another plant with a propensity for re-seeding is the beloved Astrantia.
The remains you see aren't actually the flowers at all, but like Eryngiums and Euphorbias...these are the showy, papery bracts...don't you love how they catch the light!
I love the seed heads of Monarda...they are so architectural...almost like a beehive with all those abutting cells.
I adore this grass, Achnatherum calamagrostis...the feathery plumes at this time of year remind me a bit of a feather boa...maybe worn by Las Vegas showgirl in another life.
These blobby Monarda 'Purple Rooster' seed heads reveal the best use of seed heads...dark silhouettes against a lighter background.
While quite a few Allium seed heads have deteriorated by now, those of Allium nigrum are especially durable.
While a far cry from their fluffy autumnal show, these downy tufts on Schiazachyrium 'Blue Heaven' still catch the light nicely, don't you think?
As do the curlicue blooms of Schizachryium 'Blaze'
Of course, one of the best plants for dramatic winter seed heads is the invaluable Echinacea purpurea.
They are even more striking when immersed in a frothy scrim of Deschampsia.
Again, I will probably pay for leaving these standing...but how could I cut down these Origanum seed heads...look at how they catch the light!
Veronicastrum have some of the best winter structure of any plant...sadly, mine are now flattened after a family of raccoons (seriously...FIVE raccoons) rampaged through the garden a few weeks ago.
Vernonia seed heads always take me by surprise...not only are they delightfully fluffy...but they have a slight mauve tint to them!
I know I've shown pics very similar to this before...but I can't help myself...this has been, perhaps, my favorite winter vignette this year. Agastache 'Purple Haze'...my hat's off to you.
I'll never cease to be amazed at how such a large, swarthy plant as Eutrochium is reduced to such delicate beauty after a few months of winter.
After 'Puprle Haze', Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' has just about the best winter structure of any of the Agastaches. It's stiff, rigid framework is a wonderful contrast to the ephemeral Deschampsia.
They are also a dymanic partner with the strong, but gently-arching lines of Muhlenbergia rigens.
Such a versatile plant!
The diminutive Monarda bradburiana might be my new go-to plant for edging where I need it. Tough, beautiful and long-lasting.
Another plant whose taken on a much more diaphanous appearance during winter is Panicum 'Northwind'...which has become one of my favorite plants over this past year.
Guiltily...this isn't really a seed head at all...it's a metal sculpture.
So what do you think...have I convinced you about the beauty of seed heads? If not, there's also the fact that they are a valuable food source for birds! What's your go-to plant for fabulous seed heads???