Autumn Seed Heads

helenium-heads-thumbnailI love flowers. I love tiny subtle pastel daisies and big bright blowsy flowers and everything in between. The problem is that for most of the year most plants are not in flower. They bloom for just a few short weeks then the flowers are over and done with.

Heleniums last longer than most. They put on a good show from summer until early October. They are just coming to an end now. Their bright flowers turn chocolate brown then inky black as the seeds dry and ripen.


I like to grow a good range of plants so I have something in flower all year round. In our garden there are spring bulbs and biennials, flowering herbs, summer annuals, autumn perennials and flowering shrubs and climbers. I enjoy watching them all develop from a tiny bud to a fully open flower. I love picking them for the house and the scent the blooms. I even like the way the petals fade as the flower begins to die. And then the flowers are over.


And then what?
Well I could pull up all the annuals and biennials, cut the perennials back and prune the shrubs and climbers just as soon as flowering is done. Some garden experts recommend putting your garden to bed for the winter this month. That has merits… a nice tidy garden and no jobs to do outside when it’s cold and wet.


These days I prefer to take a different approach. I try to grow plants with sturdy stems and good seed heads which will stand up to everything the weather throws at us including rain, hail, gales and snow. Their strong silhouettes give us something beautiful to look at throughout the winter months, especially when there’s mist or frost about. Some stems and seed heads will last for months… others last just a few weeks but even so I think it’s worth keeping them for their faded beauty. This echinops is already disintegrating but looks beautiful in the process and is a home for many small creatures.


Winter plant silhouettes are not the only bonus. We are often rewarded with visits from wild animals, insects and birds that we wouldn’t usually spot. They love the nectar and pollen that the flowers provide when they are in full bloom in spring and summer. It’s true that wild plants, ponds and hedgerows in the British countryside are in decline so increasingly wild creatures rely on our gardens for a food supply. Nutritious seeds and fruit produced in our autumn gardens supplement their diet. Hollow stems, fallen leaves and decaying foliage become food and shelter for all sorts of tiny creatures throughout the winter months.

Flowers are truly lovely but short lived. For me the autumn and winter bonus of seed heads and wildlife is the icing on the cake.

If you love country gardens then I hope that you enjoyed this.
I appreciate your comments and I will try to answer all your questions. Thanks for visiting.


Happy gardening.    Gillian  😉