When I first decided to divide my fall posts into flowers, foliage, and fruits, I chose to leave the fruits for last, figuring that I’d have several more weeks to capture the bounty of berries and seedheads. Unfortunately, the unusual cold and snow event at the end of October flattened much of the garden and meadow, bringing the 2011 gardening season to a screeching halt. That was disappointing, of course, but since then, a new twist to this topic has come to mind. I still have some autumn shots to share, but after them, I’ll reveal the new point of this post.
Above, a couple of Yugoslavian finger fruit squash (the white ones) with ‘Black Futsu’ squash (the orange pumpkin-like ones), ‘Carnival’ acorn squash (the green-and-white one), and a couple of yellow-and-green gourds from a mix of seeds.
Below, some ripe fruits on the annual malevolence. (I’ve used “purple devil” as the main common name before, but I’ve now decided that I like the other name – “malevolence” – better, so there it is.)
Some perennials here, including blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis), above, and ‘Amazone’ tuberous Jerusalem sage (Phlomis tuberosa), below. I think this one has appeared in pretty much every post here since June.
Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia) – above – has appeared quite often too, but it’s just so interesting that it’s hard to resist.
I’ve amassed a ridiculous number of ironweed (Vernonia) seedhead pictures over the years, yet I couldn’t resist taking more this fall.
Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum) seedheads – above with the bright yellow fall foliage of ‘Northwind’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) – are also fun to photograph.
Below, the developing seedpods of ‘Oakhurst’ pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa).
I have loads of shots of Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) in fall color, but I never thought to take pictures of the seedheads before. That might be because I usually cut the plants back by half after flowering to make the plants bushier, which means that they don’t set seed. I left the clumps in the shrubbery untrimmed this year, so there are lots of seeds.
The seedpods aren’t all that interesting, but the stick-like seeds are distinctive.
There is (or rather, there was) lots of seedhead action out in the meadow. Above is round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata); below, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Above, wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium); below, narrow-leaved mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium).
Above, hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum); below, sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula).
Back in the garden, a seedpod (boll) of black-leaved cotton (Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigrum’), above. This isn’t the kind of cotton commonly grown for fiber (that’s G. hirsutum), but it does have long white fibers surrounding the seeds.
That brings me to the really fun part of this post. In my Three Neat Plants series, my choices often end up being available only from seed that’s not sold commercially, or that’s sold only through U.K. seed sources. I realize that’s kind of frustrating for some of you, so this fall, I put even more time than usual into one of my favorite gardening projects: collecting and cleaning seed. I packed up 30 kinds to contribute to the Hardy Plant Society/Mid-Atlantic Group’s seed exchange but kept enough aside to share with all of you (or at least as many of you as I can). Below is what I can offer from some past Neat Plants features, plus a few other favorites. (Please note that only these seeds are available this time – not all of the plants in this post or in my other posts.)
Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas bluestar): I like this perennial best for its outstanding fall foliage color, but it’s lovely in bloom too. I’ve blathered on about this plant at length here: One Plant, Three Seasons: Amsonia hubrichtii.
Amaranthus gangeticus ‘Elephant Head’ (amaranth): You need only a few of these to make a real statement in your garden. (I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that statement might be.) Read a bit more about it here: Three Neat Plants – Mid-September.
Aristolochia fimbriata (white-veined Dutchman’s pipe): Much smaller than other species, this beauty looks terrific trailing out of a hanging basket or used as a small-scale groundcover. It’s not hardy here in mid-Zone 6 but grows quickly and flowers the first year, so it makes a unique annual. You can read a bit more about it here: Three Neat Plants.
Datisca cannabina (false hemp): It’s tall and it’s basically all green: not a “wow” plant, but I quite like having it around. Read more about it here: Three Neat Plants – Mid-August.
Dianthus barbatus ‘Black Adder’ (sweet William): A biennial with deep red leaves in cool weather, plus especially dark blooms. A must-have if you’re a fan of “black” flowers (or of Rowan Atkinson).
Eucomis comosa from ‘Oakhurst’ (pineapple lily): Marginally hardy for me in mid-Zone 6, this bulb produces long, strappy leaves and broad spikes of pinkish flowers in summer. ‘Oakhurst’ has deep purple new leaves that eventually turn purplish green. You can read more about it here: Three Neat Plants. The seed produces about 2/3 purple-leaved seedlings and 1/3 green ones.
Gossypium herbaceum ‘Nigrum’ (black-leaved cotton): I showed the seedpod earlier in this post, and the pink flowers are very pretty, but you’ll grow it for the super-dark foliage.
Nicotiana “Ondra’s Brown Mix” (flowering tobacco): Over the last few years, some browns have crept into my original “Ondra’s Green Mix”. These usually reach about 3 feet tall. I collected these seeds from the brown-flowered plants, but some green ones may pop up too. I also have a small amount of “Ondra’s Green Mix” seed (collected from green-flowered plants but may produce some browns).
Nigella damascena ‘Cramer’s Plum’ (love-in-a-mist): An easy annual with white flowers that turn into deep plum-colored seedpods.
Patrinia scabiosifolia (golden lace): One of my all-time favorite perennials: tall-stemmed umbels of clear yellow flowers from August to October, plus orange-to-red fall foliage color. There’s more info here: Three Neat Plants – Mid-August.
Persicaria capitata (pink knotweed): A cute ground-hugging annual with ball-shaped, pink blooms. You can find more details here: Three Neat Plant – Early October.
Persicaria orientalis ‘Shiro-gane Nishiki’ (variegated kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate): An eye-catching annual that can reach over 6 feet tall, with large cream-splashed leaves and dangling pink chains of flowers.
Phytolacca americana ‘Silberstein’ (variegated pokeweed): I’ve noticed that when anyone asks on gardening forums about growing variegated pokeweed , they get lots of negative responses – from people who have never actually grown it. For me, at least, it’s been distinctly less vigorous than the species, reaching just 2 to 3 feet tall and often getting crowded out by bigger perennials. I’m always glad to find a few self-sown seedlings each year for replacements.
Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Axminster Streaked’ (balloon flower): The photos say it all, really. I’ve had some seedlings turn out to be the usual solid purple-blue, but nearly all have some mix of that color with white.
Ptelea trifoliata ‘Aurea’ (golden wafer ash or hop tree): An interesting golden-leaved tree that comes at least partly true from seed. You can read more about it here: Three Neat Plants.
Silene ‘Ray’s Golden Campion’ (campion): A form of Silene dioica with bright yellow foliage and seriously pink spring flowers. Acts like a short-lived perennial here. Some of the seedlings are solid green and can quickly smother the slower-growing golden ones, so prick out the green ones early on if you want to keep them too or else snip them off at the base.
Solanum atropurpureum (malevolence, purple devil): You saw the round, golden fruits earlier in this post. To read more about the plant, go here: Three Neat Plants.
Talinum paniculatum ‘Kingwood Gold’ (jewels-of-Opar): Not ‘Kingswood Gold’, as so many sites refer to it; it’s originally from Kingwood Center in Ohio. An easy annual with succulent chartreuse foliage, plus tiny pink flowers that mature into equally tiny, orangey seed capsules; usually about 1 foot tall.
Tinantia erecta (widow’s tears): You can read about this unusual annual in this post: Three Neat Plants.
Zea mays ‘Tiger Cub’ (‘Tiger Cub’ corn): A dwarf ornamental corn (to about 3 feet tall) with bright white stripes on the green leaves.
Zea mays ‘Old Gold’ (‘Old Gold’ corn): A tall field-type corn with yellow-striped leaves.
If you’re interested in trying any of these, put together your wish list and leave it in a comment below or email it to me at nan at hayefield dot com. Feel free to ask for as many different kinds as you want, listed in order of preference (with those you want most at the top of the list). If there are many requests for certain seeds, I’ll fill them in the order I received the requests.
The deadline for requests is November 28, 2011.
I have two requests, in turn. One is that you send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope (I can give you a rough estimate of the postage once I get the requests worked out) to receive your seeds. The second is that next year, you collect at least one kind of seed from your own garden and share it with at least one gardening friend. It doesn’t have to be from the seeds that I sent you, though I’d be thrilled if it were, because these plants deserve to be more widely distributed and appreciated. My real goal is to show you how fun it is to collect and swap seeds of whichever plants you like best.
I’ve never attempted an open offer of seed like this before, so I hope you’ll all be patient with me and not too disappointed if I can’t fulfill all of the requests. I promise to try to send you something, even if it’s not your first choice.
If you’re longing for even more neat seeds, you really need to join the Hardy Plant Society/Mid-Atlantic Group. To get an idea of the fantastic selection that HPS/MAG members have access to through their annual seed exchange, check out last year’s catalog here: 2010-2011 Seed Exchange Catalog. The listings change each year, depending on what’s been donated, but you’re always sure to find something of interest.