August 28, 2006

Garden portraits with a difference

Going to seed is not always a bad thing. Although I tend to view deadheading as a form of recreation - the winding-down kind - sometimes I let things go a bit, either out of persnicketiness or even a genuine desire to harvest the seeds. So here is a series of garden portraits with a difference.

Seedpods on balsam
Impatiens balsamina has projectile seedpods, like all the impatiens family, which I suspect is how they got their name. Brush up against one of these babies when it's ripe and it will pop open, shooting the seeds quite a distance. They don't turn brown to let you know either, so the best way to find out is to squeeze them very, very gently, with your hand wrapped around to catch the flying seeds. If the seeds are brown, they're ripe. If they're still white, they're not, and you squeezed too hard. The seedpods on the more common impatiens are similar, but dark green and shiny. I find they tend to set very little seed earlier in the season, but when it starts cooling off, they grow me all kinds of little pods.

Seedpod on Lemon Pixie lily
I missed deadheading a single Lemon Pixie lily earlier this year and when I noticed it, I left the seedpod there on a whim. I've never saved lily seeds before, so I don't have any experiences to share with you. I may even try to grow them just to see what I get out of it. Probably something different from Lemon Pixie, but it could be good anyway.

Thalictrum flavum seeds
These are the seeds of yellow meadow rue.

Seedpod on Patriot hosta
A single flower on one of my Patriot hostas set seed this year. I'm letting it go out of curiosity. Again, this is a first for me.

Bulbil on Brunello lily
This is a bit of an oddity. When I first noticed it this morning, I thought a garden snail had crawled all the way to the top of one of my Brunello lilies. But when I took a closer look, I realized it was a bulbil, a sort of mini-bulb that grows in the leaf axils of certain lilies, especially tiger lilies. I was taken aback. I'd never heard of bulbils on an Asiatic lily before, and only one of the plants - the biggest and strongest - had produced any and even then, only two. Click on the picture for a closer view.

Previous post on the topic of Balsam, Lemon Pixie lily, Meadow rue, Brunello lilies

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Blackswamp_Girl said...

Very cool! It sounds like seed collecting is a contact sport when it comes to impatiens balsamina. lol.

Janet said...

Yup. When it comes to any impatiens, actually. The seedpods splits and curls up in one convulsive movement, ejecting the seeds as it does so. The first time I saw a "used" impatiens seedpod I thought it was a little green caterpillar come to munch on my busy Lizzies.