We’ve had half an inch of rain and the land is rejoicing. (Yes, there is also flooding, as predicted) And it’s been possible to venture out into the garden today without getting sweated out. It has become possible to see the garden again and to look beyond whatever is wilting and crying out for help.

After all that heat and dry, the garden is looking rather prematurely autumnal and slightly battered. Flowers which are ordinarily still resplendent are going to seed.

Veronicastrum in New Garden, Veddw copyright Anne Wareham

Veronicastrum, should be looking like this, but –

Veronicastrum Seedheads copyright Anne Wareham

Are looking, sadly, like this. The bees still seem to like them. They have no sense of aesthetics.


And other things are going to seed anyway, because that’s what they do right now.

Cardoons in Veg Plot Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Cardoons transforming themselves into powerful weapons….

So my thoughts turn to Piet Oudolf’s claim that “In a natural garden everything should be allowed to finish flowering, not simply to please butterflies and birds, but also because plants in decline can be beautiful.” Page 120 in ‘After Flowering’ in Dream Plants for the Natural Garden

So I went round the garden checking this out. And some plants are. And some plants aren’t.

Clematis seedhead copyright Anne Wareham

This truly IS beautiful?

Clerodendron bungei

This (Clerodendron bungei) a bit less so? Bit manky?

But I think we have a small stumbling block, which is that we are not generally fond of brown in a garden. Plants going to seed often go brown. I have a friend whose school uniform was brown and she doesn’t like brown anywhere. Most of us just enjoy other colours more.

Perhaps it’s from a distance that brown looks dreary though, because close up it can be very special. As Piet and Henk Gerritsen demonstrate better than I can: see Dream Plants for the Natural Garden again. (I have a signed copy! And better, I also have this – and this is boasting) (shameful) (he was probably just being polite) =

Piet Oudolf signature

Forgive me – I think this has been the highlight of my horticultural career.

Dream Plants for the Natural Garden

Glorious browns in Dream Plants for the Natural Garden

So this is a plea for us to begin to admire and seek out brown.

Seedhead copyright Anne Wareham

No idea what it is, but isn’t it wonderful?

And more brown:

Seed heads copyright Anne Wareham

Seed head copyright Anne Wareham

Not bad, but see on the left – it’s not going to disintegrate nicely….

What we are now begining to see is form. Shapes and textures. That takes us beyond brown.

Seedhead copyright Anne Wareham

I can’t remember what this is but it’s gorgeous.

Seedhead copyright Anne Wareham

A geranium, maybe?

Seedhead copyright Anne Wareham

No idea, but they aren’t brown..

Seed head copyright Anne Wareham

Seems quite a few are green


One thing I find problematic is that they’re not all beautiful, (sorry Piet) but if I want a plant to seed I have to leave it to do that. 

valerian going to seed copyright Anne Wareham

Valerian, going to seed. Not very beautiful, but I want those seeds seeding!

Foxgloves going to seed Copyright Anne Wareham

I don’t think these foxgloves add much to the scene – but I can’t have too many foxgloves, so they need to stay.

Willowherb seedhead copyright Anne Wareham

I want these seeds too. This is another willow herb – the white one.  

So – are seed heads worth waiting for?? What do you think?