Collecting Seeds

Many of the flowers in our garden have seed heads right now. There are all shapes and sizes with the kids firm favourite being pinching off a poppy head and using it as a shaker.

Generally you can tell if the poppy head is ready because it will be brownish rather than green and the top part will pop up revealing little holes for the seeds to shake out of.  Also if you rattle it next to your ear you can hear them shaking inside.

There are numerous times in the past where I’ve bought seeds and I will again I’m sure, but I find my rate of success growing from seed with purpose very hit and miss.  There are so many times that I’ve sown seed trays and had them on the window sills carefully watering them and watching for something to happen.  Often seedlings appear, but I’m never surprised if nothing happens at all. I’m sure that if I spent a bit more time figuring things out I could get better at it, but that’s not going to happen any time soon.

Even when I do manage to grow some seedlings quite often I will butcher them in the process of getting them pricked out. If I plant them out then more often then not they languish in the garden doing not very much and end up getting stepped on by excited children dashing about.  My specialist skill is managing to grow some seedlings and then in the meantime losing the label and entirely forgetting what they are.

The only exception to this near total lack of success has been three Passion Flower plants my daughter and I nurtured into the garden and it actually worked!  One is huge this year and I really hope that we might get some flowers next year.

So for me the seeds we see in the garden are an opportunity to have fun and experiment. Of course you can always save your collected seeds for planting out later and there is a brilliant article for this on the RHS Web site.

There are so many plants in the garden, we have no idea what most of them are, but if they are pretty and have seeds to shake then we are happy to scatter them. Because we can’t identify so many plants (and even when we do know what some of them are called I find their names escape me anyway), I’ve downloaded an app called PlantSnap.


PlantSnap has proven to be very handy so long as I can get a good picture with flowers and leaves and not too much interference from background objects etc. I have a vague idea of what things are like Echinacea, Euphorbia and Catmint for example. The app confirms my suspicions and then saves them in my collection which is a little like a library. That way I can always refer back when I get amnesia, which is pretty much all the time!

We have a patio area outside the kitchen window where lines of grass pop up with little blue flowers. I love them. I have little idea what they are, but after a bit of googling, (I can’t find a picture of them in bloom for PlantSnap to mull over) I have a feeling that they might be ‘blue eyed grass.’ At this time of the year they have very easy seed heads to gather from and I’m trying to encourage them all over the place. Luckily they are well established in the paths already.

We’ve also had these lovely orange flowers bursting all over the garden this Summer. According to PlantSnap, they are Pot Marigold and they have the best seed heads for us to collect. They are so easy and once they start flowering they don’t stop all Summer. We haven’t collected these before. But judging by how many we have, they seem to grow with little encouragement. We’ve been flinging the seeds all over the garden and will wait to see what pops up next year.

So happy gathering everyone. At the very least it’s fun for kids and you definitely don’t have to be a seasoned gardener to have a go. At best you might get bucket loads of lovely flowers for free.