At Joy Creek Nursery: September Seeds and Fruits

As I wandered around my place of work this week I noticed some tell-tale signs of autumn, especially as Noel Kingsbury and Piet Ouldof's book Planting: A New Perspective is the book of choice for bedtime reading these days. As you may know, the authors are the champions of a naturalistic way of gardening, something I am studying intensely to understand the complexities of meadow gardening and gardening in accord with nature, not to control it. A lot of the emphasis for this way of gardening is leaving seed heads as they add structure and visual weight to the garden. So with that in mind I took a good look around my amazing surroundings at work. There were so many lovely seed heads and fruits; they really outnumbered many flowers. They are a special kind of beauty. I hope you enjoy this tour of just a few of the interesting wonders I noticed this week.

 Eryngium pandanifolium with a visitor.

 Asclepias incarnata - one of many species of milkweed, the host plant for monarch butterflies.

 Zauschneria or California fuchsia, or hummingbird trumpet, fluffy seed heads.

 Stipa gigantea, a very large clumping grass with dangling seeds in the sunshine.

Astrantia major, spiderweb, and a hellebore in the background.

Rudbeckia hirta seed heads.

Cynara cardunculus or cardoon, a relative of the artichoke. These monsters reach about 12 feet high and are oh-so-sculptural.

  They are so structural and crazy looking I included four photos.

These are the kind of things I love to draw with pencil and paper. So interesting and full of texture.

Seeds! From what I understand they do seed around a little.

Helenium 'Tijuana Brass' just finishing up.

 Kniphofia seed heads.

 Hellebore seed heads.

Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas' or honeysuckle fruits. 

The easily identifiable 'Miss Willmott's Ghost' Eryngium seed head. Flowers long gone but these seeds are also very structural.

 Rudbeckia hirta 'Joy Creek Select' seed heads, a whole field of them.

 Viburnum opulus 'Aureum' - a plant sure to attract cedar waxwings. Many birds adore these berries, in fact.

Aquilegia or columbine seed heads. These are everywhere in the gardens and have crossed so much we don't know what they are any more.

Phlomis fruticosa, where the foliage is better than the flowers in my opinion. Still, the seed heads are interesting. 

 Acanthus spinosus seed heads.

I thought this was a Thalictrum but now I can't recall. Its blowsy nature is stunning...and difficult to photograph.

 Seed heads of a canna lily.

 Clematis 'Sundance' and its amazing seed heads. Once I saw this, oh yes, I purchased one. To cover up the chicken house. I mean for the incredible seed heads. Yes, that's why I got it.

Whoa, that's one plant. It's, oh, maybe 10 feet long, 5 feet high and a couple of feet wide. Coverage.

 Daucus carota or good ol' Queen Anne's Lace - just another weed, but a very lovely one.

 Here is an opened version.

 Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Rose Glow' fruits. Whew, that's a mouthful for a barberry.

Thalictrum, I think Thalictrum glaucum.

Astilbe seed heads.

The Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' looks fab, tastes awful. I'll leave these for the birds.

 Rosa pomifera, a very large species rose with amazing hips. They have been going all summer, some as big as small apples - hence, the name.

 Rosa glauca, another large species rose. It has bluish leaves (hence its name!), and is also quite tall but its fruits are considerably smaller than Rosa Pomifera.

 Here's proof that we can grow melons in the Pacific Northwest. Mike grows a variety from seed every year on this hot, south-facing slope.

 This stretch of raspberries, about 60' long in the background, feeds me every week. I have had fresh raspberries regularly since May.

Although not harvested this year, the asparagus patch is nonetheless frothy and lovely.

I leave you with a Cotinus coggyria, the fluffy "smoke" of this smokebush long gone but still holding on to interesting structure. This is one of those plants that goes through many seasons - spring for new growth and fluffy seed heads, summer for foliage, and fall for fabulous color.

Something that working for Joy Creek Nursery has shown me is to stop and pay attention to the subtle changes nature brings to each passing season. Colors I would have dismissed as uninteresting or, frankly, as dead - the browns, tawny buffs and creams, I now am learning to appreciate as adding to the layers of complexity nature reveals. You need those colors to bounce the flashy ones against -- even the pastels look better against a sea of buff-colored autumn grasses.

I hope that by looking carefully at even the end of the life cycle for these plants that some beauty has shone through.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and happy gardening!


  1. It's a wonder that seedheads don't get the respect they deserve. In the past, I've been too quick to tidy up my garden but, with more space to fill in this one, I've come to appreciate the joy of self-seeding.

    1. I completely agree, Kris. I am counting on some self-seeding myself, even thought the urge to clean up is definitely there. Well...we're both practicing restraint, right? The birds appreciate it as they come to devour many of the seeds I leave behind.

  2. Interesting perspective for a walk through the garden. I'm going to follow suit the next chance I get.

    1. Hee hee...ok, I'll watch for your seed post, too! :) Can't wait to see your fabulous perspective!

  3. You'd think after being out at Joy Creek twice in the last week I would have managed a walk around the gardens. Nope, not a single one! Thank you for taking me along to see a little of what I missed.

    1. Oh, well you are a busy gardener! It's a LOT of garden to take in, too. Besides, I see it every week so, as the French say, mon plaisir.

  4. Great tour, Tamara! I've embraced most seed heads and dead stems. There are so many benefits, from the visual, to feeding birds and providing them nesting material, to increasing the hardiness of many plants. Plus it reduces maintenance!

  5. I had a lovely walk with you in that garden, you made a great series of beautiful photos of seed heads and fruits. That one beautiful flowering Clematis ´Sundance´ with all those seed heads is amazing. Your chickenhouse will be wonderful the coming years.

  6. That's a fantastic looking Clematis!!!!

  7. I was nodding along, as I felt I was right behind you on this walking tour - just like the other week. That Sundance Clematis is fantastic, and I do have a crush on the Eryngium pandanifolium. As if I had room... Ha!

  8. I am really happy after read this post its all information is really great.

    Pole Saw


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