fabricI’ve been busy making things for a local Craft Fair, and flipped through my fabric stash. I found this, which sent me immediately into the garden with my camera – it is called ‘seedheads’.

I can sort-of see it, but seedheads of what?  It doesn’t matter, of course, but it did at least prompt me into looking around. This is something I always enjoy (that’s if I haven’t emptied all the viable seedheads into envelopes), but for some reason I haven’t paid much attention to it this year. Perhaps that’s because the seedheads haven’t been particularly memorable.

It does seem strange, given that we had such a good summer, that the autumn crop of seedheads seems more subdued than usual. Admittedly I’ve been more conscientious about dead-heading some things, notably the Cosmos, but not everything. They do just seem to be thinner on the ground. Er, or on the stem. It has indeed been a strange year, even if we did have a summer. Maybe because we had a summer!

S. horminium bouquet

The Salvias are good, though, and the horminium bouquets are even enjoying a second flurry of flowering. Admittedly it’s not as impressive as their first burst – it never is – but it is impressive because almost everything else in the garden has faded. Another salvia (and I’m afraid I don’t know which one) is, I think, better as seedheads:

salvia 2

The flowers aren’t particularly impressive; the red-brown foliage is the key. But I do love the form of the seedheads.

A perpetual favourite is the garlic chives.

garlic chives

I split and moved a giant clump a couple of years ago, and they are just beginning to bulk up in their new homes (they could do better though). I love the flowers – I have a definite allium weakness, which makes it something of a shame that they don’t do particularly well with me – and there’s the added benefit of the leaves being so very good in a tomato sandwich. And in many other things, of course, but – mm mmm, tomato sandwich with garlic chives. Ahem.

This is also a perfect time for reassessing the position of some plants, and I’m toying with the idea of moving my Cimicifuga, sorry, Actaea.


It’s been good where it is, though, and that’s in its first full year, so I’m having doubts. Maybe I’ll move some of the plants around it instead. Maybe I’ll get another one for the place I had in mind… ideas, ideas. A little less rain and some of them might come to reality. And we’re forecast snow for next week (that’s a real forecast, not the Daily Express which runs giant banner headlines about BIG FREEZES at the drop of a hat).

The big Monarda which is near to this plant is one thing I may move instead. It’s been spectacular, but not quite the right shade of red. I think it will fit in better near the garlic chives – if it lives; there’s very little to see right now. Its small pink cousins (also on the moving list) are all seedhead at the moment.


No doubt about where they are. Nor any about the Liatris, which I trapped in a pot to stop it going berserk. It seems quite well-behaved, though. I wonder if it’s trying to lull me into a false sense of security? Or are they just not as vigorous in this garden as they were in my previous one?


But there just aren’t the sheer quantity of seedheads I’ve had in the past. Even the agapanthus, which is normally covered in big, juicy seedpods which look like cardamoms, seems to have shed most of them (or just not developed them in the first place).


And that’s a shame, because they are spectacular in snow, and as we know, snow is coming. Well, might be coming. Possibly. And will provide me with yet another excuse for not getting out there and moving stuff about…


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    I don’t seem to have as many seedheads either, but you have prompted me into thinking that I should post about the ones that are in the garden, otherwise I’ll never remember. I wouldn’t move the Actaea if it is happy; they are so lovely and sometimes quite difficult about where they are planted, go on buy another one for the other spot you have for one, I give you permission!

  2. kate says:

    Thank you – I shall certainly buy another, then! Aren’t they beautiful, even in (flower-spike) death? I always leave some seedheads to see what they look like under snow – if we get any – and hopefully this will look good then too…

  3. I’d wander outside and look at my own seedheads – or the ones on the plants, anyway – but it has gone dark. Of course, with everything herbaceous being new, I don’t know if it is a good year or a bad one for seedheads. I know that lychnis and forget-me-nots obviously had very productive seedheads because they have spread themselves around a lot. And I know the knapweed seedheads are rather beguiling, but I can’t remember why. And its dark, so I can’t check. I also know that I am jealous of your garlic chives because all my seedlings of that failed this year, so I will have to try again come spring, because you are right about the tomato sandwich thing. As for the snow, I’ll believe it when I see it, but it does make me hope I can get the next section of fencing done pdq!

    1. kate says:

      Isn’t it getting dark quickly??? BRRRRRRRRRR…. and I meant to bring in more logs. Which I didn’t. GRRRR as well as BRRRRR. One of my friends said that it doesn’t matter because we’re only six weeks from Christmas and that’s halfway. Halfway to what, I’m not sure, but I’m OK with that slightly illogical – slightly? – thought.

      On the garlic chives, I will happily dig up a clump for you come the spring – I’m often in Bangor (or even Waitrose Menai Bridge, hee hee) so it wouldn’t be impossible to get them to you safely. They are fab and I couldn’t bear the thought of you going through another summer without any to put in a sarny!

      1. It does, curiously, suddenly feel that spring is a lot closer, even though I haven’t had a real cold snap yet. And yes please, a furtive – or not-so-furtive – meeing in Bangor or Menai Bridge to relieve you of excess garlic chives would be wonderful. Or venture further over the bridge and help me decide where to plant them!

        1. kate says:

          I think it may feel a bit different soon. Some people from East Anglia have bought a house near here and to everyone’s amusement have equipped themselves with snow shovels, a grit bin, etc, etc as their drive has what we would class as a slight slope. We may be laughing on the other side soon, and borrowing their shovels…

          I’ll pm you off blog about the garlic chives!

  4. Pauline says:

    Seedheads are so beautiful, its no wonder that artist paint and sculpt them, they are so tactile. We have such wet winters normally so everything ends up a soggy mess if I don;t cut them down, a few escape the secateurs though for seeds for the birds. My Garlic chives have seeded in between the paving near the raised bed, that area gets flooded each winter!

    1. kate says:

      Aren’t they lovely? Years and years ago I bought some silver earrings in the form of honesty; I must find them and wear them to respect the season (though my one honesty plant is now, basically, a stick). My goodness on your garlic chives – mine hardly seed themselves at all!

  5. This was to be the first year I was going to collect seeds from some of my plants – I’m not finding many – in true gardening style, ‘There’s always next year’.
    I recently brought an Actaea from my brother’s garden and it performed wonderfully unfortunately the one I bought myself was the complete opposite. If I was in your position, I’d buy another, you’d regret it if you didn’t.

    1. kate says:

      Oh, me too… Well, there is always next year! I think you’re right; that Actaea is staying put. I’ll look out for another in the spring. I don’t want to risk losing it in a pointless move.

  6. Cathy says:

    I was going to collect seeds for the first time too – particularly from some lovely midi sunflowers, but they have just gone soggy 😉 I have let the nasturtium and calendula drop their seeds where they are – but may live to regret it! Thank you for sharing your various seed heads with us.

    1. kate says:

      I predict you’ll have nasturtiums coming up for at least the next six years (that’s how long it is since I grew them deliberately, and they’re still popping up), and calendulas for longer! At least they’re gorgeous and go together. I’ve been quite firm about deadheading my calendulas this time, but there will still be lots of babies. Just as well I’m not an overly tidy gardener. Overly? Hmm – not at all…

  7. wellywoman says:

    I think all the rain has taken is toll on the seed heads in my garden. Everything just looks soggy and forlorn. I love that fabric. I’m a huge fan of Angie Lewin’s prints. They always make think of coastal walks. I’ve seen that suggestion of snow too. Doesn’t feel like we’ve had much of an autumn this year and we could go straight into winter. Lets hope not, I’ve still got tulips to plant.

    1. kate says:

      That’s probably it here, too. Damp and ever-so-slightly mouldy, nothing really worth saving. I’m just glad I collected some earlier in the year, as they were good then. My tulips are all in, she said, smugly…

      Isn’t the fabric fab? It was an end of roll picked up at the wonderful Abakhan. And I’m with you on Angie Lewin 100% – they make me think, for some reason, of the Isle of Man and childhood holidays visiting grandparents!

  8. Lyn says:

    I don’t have many plants with interesting seedheads, but I do love those of garlic chives and Agapanthus (even without snow cover, they look great). As it is spring here, I’m going to try a tomato and garlic chives sandwich for the first time tomorrow, thanks to your recommendation.

    1. kate says:

      Hope you enjoy it! (Making me think of next year, when I’ll have that combo again. Mind you, I could go out and buy some toms, and the garlic chives are fine for eating, must be in a ‘glass half-full’ moment!)

  9. Anna says:

    A most attractive fabric Kate – you can forgive the vagueness of seedheady images. I spent yesterday afternoon removing the seedheads of verbena bonariensis and teasels from the allotment, before I make myself unpopular. Will have to plant teasels in the garden where they can feel self seed without anybody but the birds talking about them.

    1. kate says:

      That was very good of you, all in the interests of plotterly relationships! V. bonarensis doesn’t seem to seed itself with me, and neither – oddly – do the teasels (er, so far), but I have enough clethra seedlings to set up shop. Frost is forecast, which should be the end of that. Hrumpf.

  10. hillwards says:

    Love that fabric, it’s the sort of thing I’m often drawn to, inspired by nature even if quite wildly stylised. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a seedhead quite like those! We don’t seem to have been short of seedheads here this year, though many have dispersed after the winds. The ornamental alliums are more flattened spokes than spheres, but hey ho!
    Verbena bonariensis went mental with its sowing last year; the ground was thick with seedlings in the spring, and flurries of new stems have been poking their way up all year and I’m ripping them out by the handful! And still I haven’t dead-headed them this year. I may regret that!

    1. kate says:

      It’s lovely, isn’t it? I just wish I’d been able to get more, but that’s it with discount places – luck of the draw…

      Any seedheads which might have survived in the garden have now been blustered into pulp; the weather has been vile so it’s just as well I nipped out and took shots when I did. My Verbena bonarensiseseses (as it were) are incredibly well behaved. How strange… mind you, I do dead-head them when they start looking a bit ratty and no longer interest passing insects, but I’d have thought they’d drop by then. Maybe I’m missing something…

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