They are math, science and art all rolled into one, the seedheads that is. New England Aster, A. nova angliae is a perfect sphere, full of goodness and the potential to create hundreds more just like it.
Echinacea purpurea against the rusty Think sign will feed the finches until the goodness is nearly gone. Afterwards, we will sprinkle what is leftover, usually the seeds at the bottom round that were too well attached for the birds to plunder, around the beds for free plants to arise in spring.
Eryngium alpinum has a very long lasting and ornamental seedhead. These will be on display all winter then cut down and whatever is left will be cast to the winds in the shed garden. Years of this treatment has resulted in a nice stand of them for the much desired mass planting.
Eryngium yuccafolium swims on tall stems amidst a blizzard of pink Muhlenbegia capillaris seeds, a twofer. This Eryngium is new to the area, it is hoped that the needle leaf seedlings will be emerging any year now, to be moved where the impact will be greatest. The muhly seeds just enough to be a valuable commodity and is moved in spring to live amongst its own kind. Being able to identify this grass from the many other grass babies has proven very beneficial. I know for a fact that it was pulled as a weed for years, not being able to tell it from the others. It is the blue cast to the blades that seperates the muhly from the chaff.
Rudbeckia hirta is a goner, being an annual here, with Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’ still blooming behind. Seeds of both will be collected and scattered with hopes of increasing their numbers.
Prunella vulgaris has very beautiful erect seed stalks. This plant was already growing here when this garden began. It needs no help in propagation, the reverse is the treatment here, the extras are pulled and added to the brush pile habitat to avoid a takeover in the compost bin. In the background can be seen Stachys byzantina ‘Helene Von Stein’ and the waterfall of Carex in the upper left corner.
Veronicastrum virginicum creates a candelabra of flowers and then seeds. The renovated heather bed has been planted not only for flowers but for the fall and winter interest of what is left behind. Joining the faded colors of Veronicastrum are Liatris spicata, Astilbe chinensis ‘Pink Visions’ and the grass Karl Foerster. These will provide a neutral curtain for the Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ at the edge as it goes from summer gold to winter red. That transformation has already begun.
Allium tuberosum, Garlic Chives is prodigious in the seed forming department, so much so that the seedstalks are promptly cut as soon as the balls begin to form as the flowers fade. These above have been allowed to continue the reproduction process as a new planting has been added to the design in front of the shed. Drought conditions have encouraged the use of plants that can survive without water, thugs though they might be. This Allium qualifies.
Another plant already growing here when this installment of the Fairegarden began is Datura metel. The flowers open at night and the resulting fruit spikes are a fascinating and dangerous looking weapon. After they open to reveal the black seeds, we harvest the outer coverings for the perfect Hallowe’en decor placed in a bowl or basket. ‘Tis the season.