Birds in the Garden · Garden Design · Perennials

Flowers Turn to Seed Heads

On a beautiful day last week I ventured outside with my camera. Temperatures had cooled to seasonal levels and the sun was shining in a clear blue sky. My intent was to get photos of everything still blooming to share with readers, but flowers were few and far between.

Seven straight days of record-setting temperatures of 90 plus degrees coupled with more than six weeks without a raindrop has been unkind to the landscape. I have been lugging hoses around the gardens as much as I think our well can handle, but it is no substitute for rain.

Thank goodness for the zinnias I started from seed. They have grown taller than me and are still lighting up the border with their vibrant colors.

Some salvia I have cut back twice are on their third round of blooms.

The foliage of Salvia ‘Black & Blue’ is looking pretty ragged, but their magnificent blooms are still offering nectar to hummingbirds.

The sedums are in their glory and showing no signs of drought stress.

I am not sure what my landscape would be without hydrangeas. Most of them are still offering color.

A rosarian I am not, but I grow a few easy-to-care-for roses, and ‘The Fairy’ is showing off her magical pink blooms.

But most of the flowering perennials have given up and set their seeds. Their seed heads are appealing, but they are a staunch reminder that this growing season is just about over.

The seed heads of Allium ‘Millenium’ are quite charming, but don’t bother saving them to start new plants. Its seeds are sterile.

Go ahead and save seeds of Asclepias tuberosa, commonly called butterfly weed, before the wind carries them away. Plant them in the garden in fall or save them to start indoors after a cold stratification period in the refrigerator.

Remove the seed heads from Eupatorium maculatum, or Joe-pye weed, if you don’t want it to seed itself about the landscape.

If you’re curious what crosses the bees may have made between hosta cultivars, collect the seeds and plant them indoors in winter. Or just let them fall from the plant and watch for seedlings next spring. Maybe a brand new, unique and outstanding hosta cultivar will be in your future!

I still need to get the black-eyed Susan out of the container garden where they bloomed all summer and into the garden.

The sunflowers that seeded themselves by the pond will drop seeds again for another batch next year (if the goldfinches don’t eat them all).

Deadhead ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) if you grow it. It is a prolific self-sower.

The fall landscape takes on a whole new look when the flowers fade and seed heads perform the starring role along with ornamental grasses. While they may not be as colorful, they provide handsome interest and food for birds.

Garden with me!


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