From Seeds to Seeds: Seed Harvesting and Happiness

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Happiness is not something I usually discuss publicly but today I am brimming with it. Sure, the world is currently a bit crazy—and I acknowledge and care about that—but right here at my house, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. I joke not, seriously, and I mean this both figuratively and literally.
For me, seed collecting currently feels like opening tiny gifts wrapped in crinkly sun-dried seed pod papers. Funny that after that is done, I wrap them up in cute little origami envelopes and store them until they are sold in my online store! As many of you know, Christmas shopping often begins early and as usual, I am seeing sales from early shoppers. When I hear that folks are buying seeds for someone for Christmas though it makes me so happy. These are gifts that will give back in return if properly cared for by a gardener—sometimes for years!
Milton’s Garden Menagerie (located on Etsy.com) has been a wonderful experience for a chronically ill woman who was terribly confused about how to take that next step in her life. At first I wasn’t really sure what I was doing with it and I doubted myself a great deal, but now that it has been almost 2 years and as it nears a viable business status, I think I can say I did it mostly—for the love of seeds! Saying that loud and proud makes me happy today too.
Each time I collect seeds it’s exciting no matter where I am. When I collect seeds from plants I’ve grown from seed it is even more exciting. This year, for the first time, my gardening friend down the street is letting me harvest from her garden too. Since she is 100% natural in her garden I have no problem collecting her seeds—especially when they are from plants I have sold to her at some point.
Here are plants I’ve grown from seed that I am collecting seeds from this year for my Milton’s Garden Menagerie harvest:
Tube Clematis, Clematis heracleifolia.
Variegated Honesty, Lunaria annua ‘Variegata’.
Heirloom White Single Hollyhock, Alcea rosea. 
Cardinalflower, Lobelia cardinalis.
Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica.
White Rose Campion, Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’ or Silene coronaria ‘Alba’. 
Maximilian’s Sunflower, Helianthus maximilianii.
Sticky Monkey Flower, Mimulus cardinalis.
Bottlebrush Grass, Elymus hystrix.
Then there are the plants I did not grow, but from which I am able to harvest seeds from this year.
Sticky Phacelia, Phacelia viscida.
Smoke Tree, Cotinus coggygria.
Blue Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena.
Tall Alumroot, Heuchera chlorantha.
Lewis Flax, Linum lewisii.
Pale Corydalis, Corydalis sempervirens.
Adding to all the hectic seed collecting there are the other things too. On my most recent trip to the Seattle area I came home with this gem. It, along with many others, will be planted in the coming weeks.
Blechnum chilense.

The fern is native to China and can grow up to 6′ tall in some places. It is evergreen in my climate so I am very curious to see what it will do. It spreads by underground runners and I’ve read that it can be invasive but no word on this yet in my area. I guess I will have to see what happens and in the meantime I’ll enjoy it as much as I can while it is still docile and not a screeching teen.

And during my copious amounts of free time I will begin working with my many Douglas fir cones. I need to make some new wreaths and holiday decorations because if I continue only using wine corks, someone is seriously going to think we have a drinking problem in our home.

More happy news to come in the following week so stay tuned!

Here Comes the Rain Again

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It’s July in Oregon, and this year, we’ve had horrible weather. Typically this is our driest season and yet it continues to be anything but dry around here.

Even though the weather has not been rosy, I trekked out anyway to visit Heirloom Roses in Saint Paul, OR with a friend of mine and one of the foster kids.

Despite the horrible rain, we all had a really good time learning about roses by shopping for the ones with the characteristics we wanted the most. I looked for miniatures and super fragrant old roses for crafts and my ever-so-lovely rosewater. I just cannot get enough of the stuff for my iced tea. Last year I even made rose petal beads too and it was much easier than I ever would have imagined.

Other than the nursery visit, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors in my chair, working on my shop on etsy. I have been collecting tons of seeds in the garden too, and when I rest up at night, I flip through old gardening books to unwind.

This year my neighbor friend is letting me collect seeds at her house so I can add to my online inventory. Like me, she just lets things grow and it’s all natural and I’ve had a great time collecting seeds from the plants I grew from seed a year or two ago. I kind of feel like a parent almost!
Bottlebrush Grass, Elymus hystrix.
It bothers me that there are still piles of completely neglected plants around our house, but I am finally getting back to them. Some of the plants have been sorted to sell on Craigslist, and others have been sorted to plant asap. Many of them are super lovely wildflowers from California and other Western places. So many of them are so breathtaking I feel awful about overdoing it to the extent I may have jeopardized their well being and perpetuity. I need to keep their seed strains alive, right? Somebody other than myself has to care about this.
Elegant Clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata.

Lastly, I suppose I should explain the neglect since up until now I believe I’ve been pretty sheepish about my little incident. I am sad to have to show you my foot amongst all of the blooms but let this be a reminder to all of you gardeners out there with weak ankles. I fell twice before I hit the jackpot with my last big tumble and this ensuing swollen ankle has been with me now for a few weeks. With a husband working hard at the vineyard in California, and a swelling disease that worsens when an injury occurs, life has been really wonderful around here.

Continually re-injuring an ankle is not that uncommon and I should have prevented this by doing better aftercare after I stumbled over a bag of potting soil and fell and hit my face on a rock just after twisting my left ankle for the first time. Little more than one month later I fell again walking on some river rocks but that time I only gave myself whiplash after hurting the same ankle again. This past time I really did it.  Walking down concrete stairs in the dark and missing a step ended up with me being completely unable to walk on the foot for a week.
Tomorrow I am off to see the doctor though and I am seriously hoping that I will be more comfortable for the upcoming Garden Bloggers Fling in Seattle next weekend. It should be a ton of fun, swollen ankle or not.