Nurturing plants is one of the few things in life one can legitimately do-over. Watching a plant bloom, learning what its tolerances are, and spending its final living moments harvesting its seed pods with the anticipation of doing better next year is one of those perfect opportunities to repeat and improve one’s techniques.
While being on the coast affords some hardier plants to survive and produce into late November, some plants turn to mush at the first hint of frost. However, cutting off seed pods early enough saves the dedicated gardener money in investing in new seeds and the luxury of testing and even starting new seeds indoors before the shops put out their seed displays.
I had not thought much about saving seeds until an experienced gardener from Montreal happened to stop by the Pots of Love courtyard to give me a few tips on how to preserve the seeds for next year. By the time she left, I felt I was embarking on a great adventure, with a wealth of riches in my coffers.
Seed pods became fascinating in their beauty and design, whether they were the snowflake-like individuality of poppy pods, the miniature explosions of pansy pods as they dried upside down in a bowl, or the hailing of bee balm seeds pouring out of their cells. The structure of seed cells and their means of dispersal is as marvellous as the blooms on the flowers they eventually bear.
Not all seeds are easy to access, of course, and not all pods contain viable seeds, but the ones that do can be tested throughout the winter with a sunny window and a warm room. And while there are no insects to help pollinate the winter blooms, the colour and living greenery of summer plants helps to remind me of what lies ahead.