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!

Our Pilgrimage to Annie’s Annuals in the Bay Area

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If you are a gardener, you already know about Annie’s Annuals, and like me, you regularly jump for joy whenever their catalog arrives in your mailbox. If you are new to gardening, you must order a catalog from them asap. Each edition is complete eye candy and the plant descriptions are really well written. It makes for amazing bedside reading, and it will fill you dreams with so many blooms you’ve not yet dreamt about, but you will…I promise.
If anything during this last trip made me want to move to California, it was this nursery, along with all of the other amazing gardens and native plants we met along the way. That day we drove in from camping along the Sonoma Coast and though we were dirty and tired, both my husband and I wandered around the nursery in some kind of a floral daze.
Many of the plants below are special native plants in California. Reading about them really blew me away and I hope that my husband can purchase some for the vineyard in the future.
Uncinia uncinata ‘Red’ or ‘Rubra with Sisyrinchium.
I don’t think I have ever seen Sweet Peas as sweet (Lathyrus odoratus).
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Senator’.
Grindelia hirsutula.
Mimulus aurantiacus ‘Point Molate’.
Lotus formossisimus ‘Western Trefoil’.
Lupinus succulentus ‘Rodeo Rose’.
Mimulus pictus ‘Calico Monkey Flower’.
Thistle Sage, Salvia carduacea.
Butterfly Mariposa Lily, Calochortus venustus.
Armeria.
Phacelia viscida.
Antirrhinum multiflorum ‘Rose Snapdragon’.
Lathyrus vestitus.
Tufted California Poppy, Eschscholzia caespitosa.
I love the blue of this Anchusa azurea ‘Alkanet’.

It is safe to say that shopping that day at Annie’s Annuals was like visiting plant nerd paradise. Oh how I love that I can’t take plants into California, but I sure can bring them out of The Golden State!