We've Got Seeds!

The Last Elderberries
After the great rains last winter, the garden went a little nuts. Or maybe a little seedy - And even now that the end of summer has arrived, there are still flowers, but also seeds and fruit everywhere!

It's been so much fun to sit outside for Sunday breakfast and watch the flocks of birds arrive to breakfast on the elderberries while we had French Toast. The house finches were especially excited, but we've seen other birds as well.

Elderberry in the Shadow of the Redwoods
I cut my elderberry to the ground in the late fall of each year to keep the bush small - that means it only grows to about 12 - 15 feet. And if we get enough rain, we still get berries. I've read the American Indians used a similar technique to get the long, light stakes of the elderberry. And I've used the stakes myself in different places in the garden.

Another star seed producer are the different buckwheats. I have several different species in the garden, and because I'm a suburban Town Mouse, I don't need to worry about cross-breeding with a locally native strain. The plant below is, I think, a crossbread of 'E. Grande Rubescens' (rosy buckwheat) and one of the two types of white-flowered buckwheats that I have in the garden. It blooms for a long time and seems especially drought tolerant.

CA Native Hybrid Buckwheat
The rosy buckwheat, in contrast, is mostly done blooming and scattering its abundant seeds everywhere, much to the delight of juncos, wrens, and other small birds.

Rosy Buckwheat - Some Pink Flowerstalks, some Rust-Colored Seedheads
I usually wait a long time before I do my garden cleanup and cut the stems and seedheads - and often the better part of the plant. Even if I remove many of this year's plants, I've usually had enough little plants grow from seeds to fill in the empty spaces.

With all the wonderful food, it's essential that the birds get water as well, and I fill my bird baths at least twice a week.

While August is often fairly cool in central California, September is often very hot and this Labor Day seems to be no exception. So I'll check on Sunday - maybe a little extra refreshment for my feathered friends is needed.

Water and Seeds for the Birds
I'll leave you with the most magical of the photos, showing the seedheads of showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa). I have no idea whether anybody eats the seeds, and I'm not sure too many plants grow from these seeds because the plant spreads by rhizomes. But it's a magical sight - and this year, with the plants almost 5 feet high, it's really in your face.

Seeds of Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Speciosa)
Here's hoping that this years rains will be equally abundant, and give us a great seed crop next summer as well!


Diana Studer said…
About that abundant rain?
We are hoping for twenty something mm tomorrow.
Country Mouse said…
Wonderful - I've been enjoying watching the sparrows jump up to get low-hanging flowers of the Madia to drop their fat oily seeds! It's worth putting up with the 8 foot high not-so-pretty-now plants just for the show!