November 29, 2015

Lessons From Simple Seeds

"The promise of springtime can be found in a single seed."
~Author Unknown

ironweed

While contemplating the "angle" for this season's "Garden Lessons Learned" post, I came up with several ideas--both practical and introspective. But I settled on the power and promise of the simple seed, which of course is both factual and miraculous, a blend of art and science, beauty and structure.

Like most people, I've understood--from a very young age--the mechanics and the magic of how a seed yields a plant. I've planted many seeds myself over the years, and watched patiently (and impatiently) over time until they poked their tiny stems and buds through the soil.

But I guess this is the first year (or maybe the first year in a very long time) that I've fully experienced that miracle. I was truly present.

This autumn, I spent quality time contemplating the visual beauty of seed heads in the autumn sunshine, the soft touch and the sensation of harvesting them with my fingertips, and the stunning miracle of knowing that nature and my intervention will yield new plants in a few short months.

Yes, it seems obvious and basic. But if you open your mind, heart, and soul to the gift of what that means, it can bring great joy. A simple pleasure in the midst of a very complicated process.

It's similar to the feeling that comes from truly "experiencing" an art museum. If you simply walk through and cover as much area as you can within a limited time frame ... yes, you'll "get" it. You'll appreciate all the talent that yielded the masterpieces.

But if you stop for a few minutes, an hour, or longer ... and really study one single painting ... you'll "get" it on a much deeper level.

We all know that each seed has the potential to create a new plant. But do we really know it?

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What garden inspirations and lessons have you learned or discovered during the past season?

To join in the "Garden Lessons Learned" meme, simply write a post or share one you've already written about lessons you've learned during the past season. Then share your links or observations in the comments. I'll keep this post up for a few days, and it will be available always under the "Lessons Learned" tab at the top of this blog. I'll share "lessons learned" posts on the PlantPostings Facebook Page closer to the solstice.

Please also join in Donna's Seasonal Celebrations at Gardens Eye View! Feel free to join in with a post that fits both memes, or separate posts for one or both of them.

Happy Holidays!

54 comments:

  1. Nature always succeed in surprising us!

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    1. Yes, if we have time, and take time, to really see it and "know" it. I neglected it for so many years...

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  2. Simple and beautiful....the true essence of life is that seed. And I love this post on so many levels Beth. With our extended fall I have been looking closely upon this season. I have a post coming on TH on my other blog that I will link here....it was an unusual fall.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Yes, I think the fact that we had a milder autumn made it more pleasant to be outside and hike and garden and interact with nature. I also had an opportunity to harvest a collection of seeds at a different garden, and it was a fun tactile experience.

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    2. OK my post is up for lessons learned....hope you enjoy it Beth!

      http://www.livingfromhappiness.com/wildlife-lessons-welcoming-autumn-visitors/

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    3. Beautiful, Donna. Thanks for joining in. :)

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  3. I suppose I haven’t been so good at saving seeds, mainly because in a very small garden it is rather risky to let plants set seed – you might end up with plants in places you really didn’t want! So I have been deadheading rather rigorously, and the only exception is Lilium regale. Every year I let the last flower on each of the most mature plants to set seed and in November I harvest the seeds. I got several thousand seeds this year – obviously many more that I can use! I am going to write a post about how to raise Lilium regale from seed, the seeds I sowed 3 weeks ago have already come up in the mild weather we have now :-)

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    1. Yes, the wandering seeds can be a challenge. I actually harvested some seeds from a pollinator garden that we didn't want to wander too much. I frequently deadhead my plants, too. I remember seeing your Lilium regale plants--they're stunning!

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  4. Well said - seeds are another of natures little miracles. I'm a seed-a-holic & will be slowly entering the world of seed saving in the years to come. The classic "Seed to Seed" is already on my bookshelf but I have yet to venture beyond the super easy veg like legumes & herbs. Next year, I'll likely try saving some of the solaniums, so long as diseases don't creep into the equation.

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    1. Sounds like you're into it big time! I only save a few, but it is a fun process. Mostly, I find seeds fascinating to view, touch, and contemplate. The process of dormancy to sprout to a new plant is so fascinating.

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  5. A beautiful exploration of the difference between "Knowledge" and "Being." It is one thing to know something, quite another to know it with our full being, to experience it. That is why gardeners are so intimate with the earth and the organic life on it. We have experienced it completely. The seed is a thing of perfection--containing everything it needs to nurture itself until the soil takes over. I think if we always remembered that, we would treat ourselves more kindly too...as seeds of possibility. Lovely post Beth, thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Susie. Well-said. Sometimes it amazes me how clueless and unobservant I've been until I take time to really be present. The seeds of possibility, indeed. Thought-provoking.

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  6. What a lovely post. I can especially appreciate the art comment. I think the art that means the most to me is the work I used to visit often in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo where I grew up. I was able to develop a relationship to it by seeing it so many times, similar to living with art — or a garden.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Yes, I know what you mean about the repeat visits, too. Sometimes when I see a great piece of art after a long period of time--or not so long, but on a different day--I experience it in a different way. And yes, living with art, or plants or a garden, has a similar effect.

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  7. I do love seeds! I love their look and the miracle inside them. Thank you Beth!

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    1. I'm fascinated with them, too, Tatyana. Sometimes I don't take enough time or focus enough to truly appreciate them, but they hold the promise of the world in their little packages, don't they?

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  8. Gardening brings so many pleasures, some are hard to ignore, but some reveal themselves when we take time to notice.

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    1. Yes, so true! The less obvious pleasures and treasures often surprise us with their amazingness. Then we can't believe we didn't notice. Thank goodness the miracles sometimes catch up with us!

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  9. There is so much to be learned in that lesson of a single seed, much that applies to our lives as well as to nature. The garden is a fabulous classroom!

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    1. Yes, it is indeed a perfect classroom, Deb. A classroom and a gift. We are blessed when we are allowed to witness these tiny miracles and really "know" them.

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  10. Nature provides great space, time and condition for the seed's growth.

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    1. Yes, indeed. And it's fascinating to observe. :)

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  11. Thank you for this beautiful post with a reminder for us to be present and experience the miracles that we encounter daily!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Peter. I'm working on it. Sometimes I'm better at being present than other times. Time marches on, no matter what.

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  12. This post made me think of the wonderful image of Johnny Appleseed, walking around dropping apple seeds to introduce apples to his new country. I must remember and be grateful for the miracle of seeds next time I'm removing forget me not seeds from my dog Potter's hair.

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    1. Ha! I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right. I know--there are seeds I welcome more than others. Still, they're all miraculous. :)

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  13. you've seen the zen of seeds Beth! an uncertain futire lying in an ageing past - how small and yet how tough - surviving temperatures, birds intestines and able to shift great weight of soil (relatively speaking) when the first sprouts push though

    p.s. really enjoyed reading about you in Donna's interview - avocation a perfect word - Laura x

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    1. Hi Laura: Yes, indeed, the zen of seeds! It captured me big-time this autumn. Truly, amazing little miracles. It was fun to participate in Donna's interview process--embarrassing, but fun. ;-)

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  14. One of my favorite things to do in the garden is to plant seeds, whether in the springtime or in the winter scattering seeds over the snow. They hold such promise, as the quote says, and to me they represent the eternal optimism of the gardener. They truly are little miracles!

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    1. Yes, we are an optimistic lot, aren't we? Most of the time, anyway. The seeds help me see that winter is only the beginning. Usually, I don't plant them in the fall/winter, but I decided to try again this year. Even if I'm unsuccessful, I still appreciate how the system "works" in nature.

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  15. I also appreciate seed heads, especially the Monardas and Joe Pye Weeds. And all the seed heads that attract goldfinches. Here's my contribution.https://gardeninacity.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/minimalist-lawn-care/

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    1. Great post, Jason. We haven't used chemicals on the lawn for years, but that means, like you, we have to be patient about Violets and other "weeds." But Corn Gluten Meal helps keep most of them at bay. I haven't tried the compost method, but I think I will in particularly tough spots. Thanks for joining in the meme.

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  16. I was so happy anytime I plant seeds and they come up...

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    1. I know, me too, Michelle. There's something so rewarding about seeing the plant all the way through the process. I haven't had much luck with seed planting directly in the garden, but I keep trying. Planting them in pots first in a cold frame, and transplanting seems to work best for me. I don't have patience for grow lights, although I love the idea. In any case, the process of seed to plant is so amazing.

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  17. You've captured the wonder of seed-to-plant beautifully, Beth--in both your photo and text.

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    1. Thanks, Tina. There's so much more one could say, but this is the brief message that expressed itself through me at the time. :)

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  18. It is so true to compare nature to art that way. Nature is art in every respect. The beauty found rivals anything man creates and man being of nature, explains his need to create. While in Europe, I visited so many famous art museums, yet did stop to ponder certain paintings. Knowing about certain artists made the experience all the more rewarding.

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    1. Yes, nature is art--so true. I think of it that way more and more with time. And absolutely, the beauty of nature is unparalleled. Sounds like your Europe trip was amazing!

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  19. I'm on my hiatus so I don't have a post to share but a lesson I learned this year is to remember that some seeds and plants don't need any help so therefore I should stop helping them. All I was doing was slowing them down or interfering. I also relearned to listen to my plants more carefully. I did an enormous amount of branch pruning in mid-summer because my shade perennials were screaming for more sun. They needed a leaf canopy that resembled lace not a brick wall.

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean about listening to your plants. It's really true--they do speak to us if we only listen. ;-) Regarding the seeds, most of the time, I simply let them go for the birds and to re-seed themselves. But recently, I've been trying to get some native plants going, and seeds are a more economical way to do so. I'm imagining your perennials screaming at you, which makes me smile. :)

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  20. This is a wonderful post. Seeds are miraculous and some plants spread them generously without any help from us. I wonder if you have ever seen the delightful and beautiful children's book Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn Galbraith which is about the different ways Mother Nature plants her seeds.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, they are miraculous! Most of the time I just let them go, and to be honest I don't have adequate patience with starting plants from seed. But when it works, it's very rewarding! Yes, I'm familiar with that lovely book. :)

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  21. I guess the greatest miracles are those which are all around us in the natural world, seeds being one of them. I know what you mean about really immersing yourself in an experience to make it meaningful. It reminds me of being in a beautiful place like Venice, and seeing people walking by, experiencing it only through a camera lens. So sad that they are so intent on capturing an image that they are forgetting to experience it.

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    1. I think you're right, Jane. The greatest miracles are the ones we take for granted, aren't they? I'm guilty of clinging to the camera too much sometimes, myself. I have to make a determined effort to leave it at home or commit to not taking photos sometimes. The best memories seem to be those that include just a few photos that frame a greater experience. You're right, immersion is the key. That applies equally to art, music, language, relationships, nature, and everything else of value in life.

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  22. yes, a seed holds so much potential and hope! loved this post!

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    1. Thank you, Jandi. I guess it's a simple idea, but it's also profound on a different level. That's the aspect of nature that truly amazes me.

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  23. A lovely post Beth. A lesson I have to learn about seeds is that if I pop them into my pocket and then forget about them, no matter how beautiful and miraculous they are, they will never, ever grow. You' d think I' d know this by now, but I still do it.

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    1. Thank you, Chloris. Ha! I've been known to do that, too. And then there's the challenge of ensuring correct timing for planting. Nature does it best, of course. And the seeds in the pockets remain as fluffy lining. :)

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  24. Great post Beth! I too, am amazed by the miracle of the seed. When I had my garden, that was one of my favorite things to do--walk into the garden every day after sowing seeds just to see them begin to sprout. And I LOVED sowing wild flower seeds every year and waiting to see what the spring would bring. Thanks for the reminder :)

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    1. Thank you, Diane. I'm sure everything sprouted faster in Texas. ;-) We'll be waiting a while for next year's new plants. Although with this mild weather, some plants are sprouting already!

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  25. cautiously scattering seed, and steadily harvesting the enthusiasm. My lesson is cuttings, not seeds.
    http://eefalsebay.blogspot.co.za/2015/12/dusty-miller-Centaurea-for-advent.html

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    1. Your cuttings of Dusty Miller are beautiful, and have really filled out already in your garden. Thanks for joining in the memes, Diana. :)

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  26. Thank you for the nudge to share my post here, what a great meme! My mistake involves not taking into account a nearby water source, a lesson I should have learned already because I made the same mistake back in 2014!
    http://www.thedangergarden.com/2015/12/learn-from-my-mistakes-18-dont-drown.html
    http://www.thedangergarden.com/2014/06/learn-from-my-mistakes-11-look-up-dummy.html

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    1. Thanks for joining in, Loree. :) I love your lessons (and your sense of humor ... and your plants)!

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