dried, forgotten, wonderful

I've been cleaning the garage recently (once every decade whether it needs it or not!) and I don't know how many times I've asked myself "why did I keep this?!" Sometimes there is a reasonable answer. Often times there is not. I've filled a few trashcans lately, but there are some things I just have a hard time throwing away.

For example, dried flowers. It's not that I collect seed heads from every plant I grow, but there are some circumstances that make it worthwhile to save the flowers. Here are three examples that were saved with good intentions but have now become garage clutter, so I thought I'd take a look at them here before they headed to the compost pile.


First up is this cardoon flower.

For me, cardoon is a tender perennial, meaning that it may be able to overwinter if the conditions are right, but usually it won't survive. Since it doesn't flower its first year when grown from seed, flowers are rare. I've only had flowers once -- a few years ago when two different plants survived the winter, rewarding me with giant, thistle-like blooms.

I love the different textures here, from the fuzzy soft:

to the dry and wiry:

and the dangerously prickly:

I harvested as many seed heads as I could before they opened completely, but some opened after I collected them. One thing I learned about cardoon flowers: they're efficiently packed with fluffy seeds!

If you're familiar with dandelion seeds, these are like an extra-large version of them:

Beautiful! I'll keep several of the best-looking seeds and get rid of the rest. It turns out I have a small bucket full of these cardoon seed heads. (Why? I can grow maybe ten cardoon at most in my yard... why did I think I needed hundreds of seeds?)

Next up is something that wins on quantity alone: I found a big bag of castor bean seed pods!

I must have collected these a couple of years ago when I was going to grind them up and use them as mole repellent.

I never did find a good way to grind these, and using our coffee grinder isn't an option as the seeds are highly poisonous.

They're prickly too, but not so much after they've had a few years to "mellow".

No fluff in these pods though, just a beautiful seed:

Beautiful but deadly castor bean seed.

If I can figure out a quick and easy way to get all of the seeds out of the pods I may do that. Not that I need hundreds and hundreds of castor bean seeds, but I may find a grinder someday...

Finally, the oldest dried flower head I've got:

It's a celosia of some kind. I grew this 8-10 years ago, and loved the huge brain-like bloom, so I cut it and hung it up to dry. It's been hanging there ever since.

It kept its red color for a few years, but then faded to an orange-brown color.

The texture is amazing, and I can feel the urge to keep it hanging in the garage working on me...

Must... resist... packrat... urges...

Incredibly, there are still some seeds present in there:

I seem to remember this thing dropping tons of seeds for a couple of years, so seeing a few left in there is a little surprising. (Incidentally I've grown another form of celosia called 'Flamingo Feather' if I remember correctly, and they produced so much seed I've still got those popping up in odd places every year.)

All of these are beautiful in different ways, but there's really no need to keep them around in my garage. I'm going to be strong and get rid of them today!

Well, this weekend at least.


Definitely sometime this summer...


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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 27, 2011 at 10:37 AM)  

I can totally relate. Our garage is full of...STUFF. Excellent macro photos. The last cardoon seed image is particularly stunning.

Funny you should mention castor bean seeds, considering I just wrote a post on my blog on sowing some of the seeds I got from you. LOL:


Lisa  – (May 27, 2011 at 5:27 PM)  

I think that celosia looks like a cockscomb. I've been trying to find them for years to grow in my garden!

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens  – (May 27, 2011 at 8:34 PM)  

I would have a really hard time throwing these away too, especially when your photographs show how beautiful they are. I had a bag of pine cones that my son collected hanging in the garage for 5 plus years and just used them to make a wreath last year.

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (May 27, 2011 at 9:49 PM)  

Lovely! The reddish orange hues of the Celosia are my favorite, although I admit I've never seen a dried Celosia before.

Karin / Southern Meadows  – (May 28, 2011 at 8:42 AM)  

What great seed pods! They are all so unique and your photographs really show off their splendor. I would find it difficult to throw them away. Maybe you can do a seed exchange.

Alan  – (May 28, 2011 at 8:43 AM)  

Lisa -- do you want some of the remaining seeds? I may actually have the original seed packet too. I'll see if I can germinate a few of them and send some to you if I'm successful and if you're interested.

Lisa  – (May 28, 2011 at 7:40 PM)  

Wow! That would be amazing! We saw some beautiful cockscombs at the Chicago Botanic Gardens a few seasons ago and I've been longing to have them in my garden ever since. The looked like folded velvet - it was hard to believe they were flowers.

Let me know if you have success!

I followed you here from the Pioneer Woman by the way. I saw your comment and was intrigued by your blog name.

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