Can you guess what these beauties are?

They are one of the most lovely things I have seen in my garden this autumn - bar the flowers and the pests I blogged on recently.

And they have made me very happy that I bought three Asclepias from the new garden centre I found earlier in the year.

Online details of the Asclepias plants (if you remember the labels were useless) promised me colourful flowers, seed pods and then seeds with 'parachutes'. And this is exactly what they have delivered. The individual flowers (above) are quite small but they have a large 'flower head' effect. I couldn’t imagine what the seed pods would be like.

It turns out that they are enormous, at least 4-5 cms long, almost as long as the leaves. The seed pods start green.

Then they harden, fade and the outer layer curls back to expose lots of brown seeds in what looks like the most intricate French plait every invented.

Then they mature, the wind blows and the seeds expose their electric filament-like parachutes which shimmer in the sunshine and will take them wherever. They are completely amazing to watch – best seen in the video at the top of the page.

They may, of course, cause me lots of problems if they “take” where they shouldn’t ie in the pink bed, but the prevailing winds have blown them towards the pond, greenhouse and not very fertile gravel paths. We’ll see next year and I have decided to harvest some and plant in the greenhouse because they are quite tender and so that I can recognise the seedlings as they grow. I'll have no idea what they’ll look like otherwise and they could easily be scooped up in general weeding.

These beautiful seeds have made me focus on other seed heads and my garden is full of them at this time of year. The rose hips are obvious and seldom create a new rose (though I have a small rose I didn’t plant in a pot by the house).

Nigella seed heads are everywhere, larger than their flowers and luckily are usually successful in self-seeding.

The Convolvulus seeds are much more ‘normal’ in relation to their flower size and are also very successful at creating new plants.

The large seed pods of the Wisteria seem sensible given the size of their flower clusters (I have never let them mature)….

… but the boomerang-shaped Tracleospermum jasminoides seed pods are far larger than the flowers they come from.

My new Solanum laciniatum has very large seed fruits too. They are changing colour from green to yellow - like plums.

And the Crocosmia Lucifer seeds are now about ready to burst from their pods... are those of the Ceratostigma...

..while the Agapanthus seeds have almost all already set flight.

But there is one plant that will keep me mesmerised by its seeds for a long while yet. That's the Miscanthus sinensus around the pond. Most of its heads are still in their early stages. This one below is opening to produce its seeds. And they look wonderful, whether the light is on them or through them. They are a perfect plant for the lower lights of autumn and winter.

So, which of this wonderful haul of seeds am I going to use?

Sadly, my garden and greenhouse are too small for me to need to propagate much - so bring on the gorgeous man with lots of acres and greenhouses that need looking after!

Most of these seeds will go to waste but I do propagate special plants and easy annuals including Begonia, Nicotiana of all sorts, and Cosmos. But mostly there isn't enough room to multiply what I already have.

Some years back I had some wonderful, exotic-looking, Begonias. I bought them from a specialist at The Malvern Show and they were in pots outside.  Each winter I took stem cuttings from them, ensuring I had leaf buds on two junctions, then simply stuck one end in jam jars of water and put them on a kitchen window sill over winter. They all sprouted new roots in the water within weeks and turned into new plants very easily, came true, and flourished. This went on for about seven years - until I got bored. One year I let the cuttings dry out. Inevitably they died. I really regret this lack of care because I miss them - and have not seen them since at flower shows.

I am not fond of the little, boring, yellow and red ones with dark green leaves that live in shade. Nor do I favour the huge, blousy, double ones in a range of garish colours. But I loved these little, tender ones, in pink and white which look like orchids.

They were great value because they flowered from mid Summer until the snows. I must seek them out again at the next Malvern show.

So, I shan’t be collecting or saving many of these seeds. I shall see where the wind blows them - and then probably do a lot of weeding next year!


This is a very pretty, double, crinkled patio rose with slight scent. it had slightly weak stems to begin with but has put on strong growth with thick new shoots in 2013 and is looking fab and flowering profusely. It repeats.

I am a bit of a sucker for names and this was a must have because I lived in Mumbai, India for five years in the mid 1990s. As it happens it is also a beautiful hydrid tea with dark shiny foliage and a fabulous scent. It is not very floriferous but when they come they are stunning.

This is a beautiful, pale yellow, scented rose that I have treated rather shabbily. It was initially in a large planter by the kitchen door where it worked hard to flower each year but was a bit thin and spindly - who can blame it. Roses, especially climbing ones, are not really happy in pots unless they are designed for them.

A couple of years ago I put it out of its misery and moved it to the fence in the Hot bed where it is thriving better. It has flowered well in 2013 and repeated slowly all season. It's obviously much happer being in a bed because it is now sending up wonderful, thick, new shoots - so I have high hopes for it going forward.

This rose has grown itself from seed so I have no idea what it is but it is very cute and lives in a barrel with some Clematis.

In 2012 I re-created the North facing front garden, got rid of a very old privet hedge, dug a completely new bed beside my new low wall and railings and have planted things that I hope will manage with light but very little direct sunlight. This rose is one of three planted that can cope with shade - I hope. They are tall standards ie grafted at 100cms so they will flower above the railings. One was R. 'Champagne Moment'  and I planted two R. 'Cream Abundance' either side of it because supposedly it has smaller, cream, cluster flowers and is sweetly scented and repeats, with good disease resistance.

However, as you can see, the flowers are enormous and red/pink on the outside and cream in the middle. They are also fragrant as promised. They have not been "what they said on the tin" but I am not complaining. They look and smell fabulous and are already repeating. Very impressive for roses in year one and much appreciated by my neighbours and those walking past.

A good, small, patio rose which performs all summer and has a pretty scent. I have it in a pot and it does very well each year.

This is an enormous, vigorous and fabulous rose with great scent and great beauty. It forms a large "shrub" (lots of stems), flowers all season and even has nice hips if you leave them on for winter.

This was planted in memory of a beautiful young man who was killed too young in a tragic accident. He was the son of my Mum's best friend from school, Jo, who I have appointed as my 'honorary' godmother because she is simply fantastic company and a plant fanatic. She is actually godmother to one of my four brothers which is a total waste for both of them, so I have claimed her. She is however, in my humble opinion, somewhat too obsessed by dark purple plants! 

R. Compassion has beautiful dark green, shiny foliage and beautiful peachy pink flowers in an old fashoned, square/round shape. It repeats all season and has a lovely fragrance. I have moved it twice since I planted it. It has survived the moves and now, finally, it is thriving and blooming profusely on the square arch across my side passage with the Lonicera americana, the Wisteria and Rosa 'Lord Byron'.

Tall, scented and vigorous with lovely blooms. Each bloom has been enormous so far in 2013. It has loved the wet Spring and now this fabulous Summer.

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