Return of the Pods*

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Some stories take years to develop. Some stories can be imagined and written in one day, even an hour. However, this, dear readers is a story that built itself over several months. Photos were snapped at proper intervals to better illustrate the tale. Please follow along , if you so desire, as Kitty and I explain what happened in the new Fairegarden during the summer of 2015.

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It began in the birdfeeding area along the fence. Sometimes sunflowers and grasses will germinate and grow from seeds dropped to the ground by careless bird diners. This sort of thing happens all the time. Sometimes the sunflowers will grow well enough to produce large flowers and seeds to feed the birds from their own sowing. But a plant arose in this area that did not look anything like a sunflower. What could it be, the gardener wondered.

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The mystery plant grew large and robust as summer progressed. Kitty found cooling shade under the large leaves, all the better to observe but not disturb the feeding birds. Warm weather storms caused some leaning in the tree like greenery from heavy wind and rains. Wires were run between the fence posts to hold it upright.

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Then beautiful blooms appeared, lots of blooms, many, many blooms. It was good.

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The blooms were an obvious clue, but the truth was revealed when large pods formed. This was an okra plant, but how did it get here, the gardener wondered again.

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Oh yes, the old okra pod wreath was still hanging there on the fence, totally obscured by its giant offspring. I remembered seeing birds perched on the wreath the winter before, pecking at the pods. I had thought that because the pods had been dipped in polyurethane the seeds would not be edible. I was wrong. The pods were shredded by strong beaks of various finches. Some stray seeds must have fallen to the ground and found the conditions to their liking. That seems odd since there is a only a thin layer of hardwood mulch over thick cardboard all along the fence, placed there to kill the crabgrass lawn and deter weeds. I was wrong about that, too.

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The first killing frost was late this year for us and the okra tree continued to grow to the sky and produce yet more flowers and pods well into November. The fence is six feet in height, so the estimate is about ten feet for the fully grown plant. Lower leaves were removed to better harvest the drying pods. Another, smaller red okra sprung up beside it. It was remembered that the original pods were from two types of okra, one of them red, Bowling Red I think.

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In the shed, the pods are drying. They were much larger than their parents, as the plant was much larger than any okra I have ever grown before.

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At the beginning of 2016, the old wreath is once again a feature on the bare fence, tattered pods flying like banners  in the wind. The wreath still seems to be in faire shape though, and would make a nice base for another okra pod wreath once this year’s pods are fully dry. The old wires look like they can even be reused to attached them. Waste not want not is a creed observed my entire life. In case I have forgotten how to fashion such a wreath, the old post will show the way.

“How To Make An Okra Pod Wreath”

The original okra pod wreath was featured in the blog post linked above. The wreath hung proudly on the door of the old house for several years before being brought to the new house in 2014 and hung on the fence. There is no wreath currently hanging on our front door. Perhaps there will be a new one proudly displayed on the door soon.


*Rather than pod people, old horror movie buffs will recognize this reference as from the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, these pods are more the botanical type.

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33 Responses to Return of the Pods*

  1. Isn’t it fun when the garden gives you such a beautiful plant?!.

  2. I knew what it was as soon as I saw the flowers! Plants do sometimes grow in the darnedest places and do better than you ever imagined. I love surprises like these. They are one of the joys of gardening. Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Kathy, thanks for visiting. The flowers gave it away, but the pods left no doubt. It was fun to watch the plant grow so large. The birds enjoyed hiding in the foliage as they took turns at the feeders, too. Happy New Year to you!

  3. Caroline says:

    Neat story! I have often thought I might plant okra in my ornamental front garden; the blossoms are so pretty. By the way, I really like your simple cardboard-and-mulch treatment along the fence line. A new fence is (hopefully) in our future this year and I have been wondering what to do once it’s up.

    Hi Caroline, thanks for stopping by. Sorry I didn’t respond to your comment sooner, WordPress thought you were spam for some reason. Anyway, the okra plants have lovely large leaves and beautiful flowers but can get quite large. The pods are very attractive, as well. The cardboard, or thick layers of newspaper if you have it, covered by mulch has been the solution to make a garden out of a crappy lawn here. The cardboard breaks down quickly with our high rainfall and can be planted into in a few months, if desired. Good luck with your new fence!

  4. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I recognized the flower too! You make want to plant some okra in my corner bed 🙂

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Cindy, glad to hear you know your okra! I suggest the red types if it is for ornament only, the stems a young pods are a reddish color, the flowers are the same as the regular ones. Easy to grow, obviously. Who knew birds enjoyed the seeds? Not I!

  5. What a fun story. I hope you are saving a few seeds to drop in spring.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Marian, thanks, glad you enjoyed it. The pods are splitting as they dry in the shed and seeds will be saved, yes. They will make a good snack for the birds.

  6. Marie Brown says:

    So glad to see your post. So glad your garden is inviting us all for visits again. Your okra reminded me of the ones I saw in Conakry Guinea where they grew along a city road on the unpaved sidewalks, and were about 10 feet tall.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Marie, thank you for the kind words. It is good to be back blogging again. I hope to do so more often now that the garden is coming along. It sounds like okra is a plant that likes waste places. The trunk of mine was at least a couple inches thick, very tree like. A warmer climate would surely produce very vigorous plants. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Barbara H. says:

    I had a volunteer okra like yours that appeared next to my back patio a year or two after I moved in. I now keep the beautiful pods in a glass pitcher in the kitchen. I love to look at it when my eyes wander over that way. Happy new year, Frances.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Barbara, thanks for reading along. What a good idea with the pitcher, the pods are so beautiful and long lasting as long as birds don’t peck at them to get the seeds out. Cool on that volunteer plant. Happy New Year to you!

  8. Ah, I missed the original post about the wreath. It is so cute and now I want to do the same. Only I don’t want to hassle with growing them. I hope I remember this come summer when I can buy some to dry!

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Jean, thanks for visiting. The original post was fun, especially for those who don’t really care to eat the okra. They are really worthwhile as dried decorations. Hope you can find some at the market to dry, but they will be smaller. Supposedly they are better eaten while small.

  9. meander1 says:

    Oh, my, I would have stayed mystified until some more knowledgeable soul took pity on me. For some reason, okra was never part of a meal while growing up and I have followed that family “tradition”. Ha, or as Sgt. Schulz from Hogan’s Heroes would say, “I know nothing”.
    Also, Kitty is a beauty.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Michaele, thanks for stopping in. Okra was never on my parent’s table, either. I did learn to eat it cut up into small pieces, breaded, fried and dipped into ranch dressing, but nearly anything so treated becomes edible. We now try to eat more healthy so okra was designated to decorative status. It is a beautiful plant, though, and the leaves would make good cement leaf castings, as well. Kitty says thank you.

  10. Kris P says:

    I never knew okra was so beautiful in foliage and bloom!

  11. Lola says:

    So enjoyed your story. The bloom gave it away for sure.

  12. Valerie says:

    An interesting story. Just shows you that some seeds are viable no matter what medium they are grown in. Valerie

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Valerie, thanks for visiting. I was surprised the seeds sprouted after the soak in polyurethane. Maybe I will skip that for the next wreath since it didn’t really preserve the pods.

  13. Rose says:

    I’ve never grown okra before, but I know I’ve never seen one this big! Usually when I have a surprise plant like this and nurture it for awhile, it turns out to be a weed:)

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Rose, thanks for stopping by. This volunteer was twice the size of any okra I have ever grown. It does sound like they do get large in more tropical climates. This one had a strong will to live. I have had those surprise weeds, too. Guess this okra grew like a weed!

  14. Michele says:

    Okra blossoms are some of the prettiest flowers around. The first year my husband and I grew okra, Clemson Spineless, they grew over 7 feet tall! Unfortunately, we did not save any seeds. Subsequent plantings of the same variety have never yielded plants that tall, but the okra have still been delicious. I love the idea of an okra wreath. You reaped really nice benefits from yours.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Michele, thanks for sharing your okra experience here. Okra are heavy feeders so the large volunteer plant here must have hit a vein of nutrients somehow is all we can figure. The original seeds came from Sow True Seeds out of Asheville, NC. I still have a few left and might try them again in the same spot, maybe with a little composted manure as a boost. The birds did love to perch on the branches and Kitty loved to nap underneath it.

  15. catmint says:

    serendipity pays off, you can have too much planning I think, in the garden and in life. And I love the reference to the old horror movie! great post, Frances.

    • fairegarden says:

      Hi Catmint, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you! You are so right and planning in the garden and in life. Both are filled with the unexpected. You may be the only one who mentioned the movie…scary stuff back in the day.

  16. Ah, that’s fabulous. What a fun surprise! And it was a beautiful climbing plant, too.

  17. What a charming story! I just love surprise plants. I happened to pick up some candytuft plants not long ago, and planted them, of course. This year we did not refresh our mulch as we usually do, and lo and behold, I have a veritable army of candytuft now! Free plants, what fun.

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