Leaving seedheads to stand in the garden through the winter can bring unexpected pleasure, like these snow-capped purple coneflowers. Any seeds not eaten by the goldfinches eventually fall to the ground and make new plants for transplanting elsewhere.
This year, though, I've been more organized about harvesting seed, the aim being to scatter it at a detention basin in Smoyer Park converted two years ago to a meadow, and at the "fallen pine forest" near the parking lot at Herrontown Woods, which Friends of Herrontown Woods volunteers have been clearing of invasives so sunlight can reach sun-loving species like this ironweed.
Seeds of rose mallow hibiscus are very conveniently and aesthetically packaged for easy plucking.
The utilitarian act of collection can bring unexpected moments of beauty in plants that a more intense management approach might have already cut down as part of fall cleanup. The cottony seedheads of hollow-stemmed Joe-Pye-Weed down along the canal take on different looks when backlit
or directly lit by resiny late afternoon sun.
Seed collecting continues even after arriving home, picking the tick trefoil seeds off denim pants.