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Rosepink Harvest

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'm feeling grateful today. You may recall my ongoing struggle to perpetuate Sabatia angularis, my favorite wildflower (also known as rosepink or meadow gentian). That fragrant showy beauty that seems always in peril of being mowed at its peak. 

Well, this year instead of roping off the stands, I simply put a bamboo stake with pink flagging next to each plant. It was so dry this summer that after a point the township didn't mow. So it worked. And then one late September morning I got a call from Mr. Antill, who mows for the township. 
"I'm out here and I'm about to mow. Do you want to do something with these plants before I do?"

Oh, yes, I did! The timing was perfect. I knew the seed pods had awhile to go before they were dry and mature enough to split open, but I also knew that the plants were for all intents and purposes done. The perfect time to harvest them.

Here are the green seedpods. Not ripe yet, not ready, and the seeds within are still white and soft, but you can see that the leaves are pretty much dead and the rest of the process now would just be drying.

My most faithful companion came along. He is used to watching me do inscrutable things with plants, bugs, tadpoles and the like.  He is patient. He watches for cars while I do my stuff.

You be careful. There might be yellowjackets in that hillside. I got stungted already this fall. So I will wait for you by the car.

I visit each plant and take a sprig of seed capsules off each one. I figure the rest can dry in place and disperse naturally. Mowing won't hurt them now. It may even help disperse them.

The clammy cuphea is seeding out, too.

 This is the first time I can recall seeing clammy cuphea around my home. In the end I had to ask my friend Tricia West what it was. It's extremely gummy and sticky. So much so that I wonder if it's carnivorous; there are little gnats caught all over its glandular surface, in the shining beads of stickum on the end of each hairlike process. A pretty little native wildflower. I'm delighted to have another new wildflower to look forward to. These photos were taken Sept. 20, when it was in full bloom

when I wasn't sure what it was. Love digital photography for just that--as a record of what I don't know, to be identified.

 It's a leggy thing, maybe 2' tall or much less, depending on the individual.

Its little seedpods look like Moses in a boat, just like the tropical cigar plant's do.

I'm pleased to find a relative of one of my favorite greenhouse plants. I grow it from seed, too. This is a Mexican cuphea commonly called cigar plant or Mexican firecracker. Hummingbirds dig it.

Before long I have a lovely harvest of rosepink seedpods. I'm so thankful Mr. Antill thought to call me. There are tens of thousands of seeds in these stems.

I take up the stakes, too.

I go up the road to find Mr. Antill and thank him for sparing the plants and calling me.

I'll show him the seedpods.

"Oh so that's all it is," he says.

Much ado about a bunch of brown seedpods. But oh, what promise in a seed. I'm going to plant this batch out right where I want it to grow, on the still-bare soil on Geepop's grave in the orchard. Rosepink grows out there naturally, but sparsely. I want a whole mess of it there. I've had my fill of trying to grow this fussy little biennial in planters, in the greenhouse. Besides, I don't have a greenhouse yet.

He goes on with his work and I head home with seeds that are precious only to me.

and my buddy, ditto. Well, no, lots of people love Chet.

When I come back up the road I see Mr. Antill has mown the living crap out of the wild coreopsis around our mailbox. And the little red oaks that were coming up where their mother perished. 

Oh. Thank you, I guess.  It's all about communicating your wishes. It's kind of hard to communicate to someone not to do something you didn't dream they'd do, though. I'm sure Mr. Antill did it to be nice. Clean it up. It was messy, to the eye that doesn't distinguish coreopsis from multiflora rose. I liked it. It'll come back, though.

I'm so happy I got some gentian seeds I just laugh when I see what was our coreopsis patch. We're going to plant an American chestnut there, anyway. With a sign and a fence around it. Good fences make good neighbors.

Mission accomplished. Got mah seeds!!


I do love those rosepinks, even though I have never smelled them. Perhaps someday I will. It is so amazing that the tinier than sand seeds can produce such a cool plant.

I love Sabatia! Found it growing wild on two recent trips to different wildlife management areas. No harvesting allowed but got some nice pictures.

oooo- we planted bat-faced cuphea which was very showy, and i had no idea about the plant, but i see the relation between your wild cuphea and ours. Neat.

Always wondered why I love Chet Baker posts when I'm COMPLETELY not a dog person (cats always, indoors to keep birds safe). When I read "stungted" I knew why--it's you giving him voice that makes him irresistible! Can't wait for the book! Got any idea when?

All the talk about plants and seeds are good, but I got lost in your partner's comment: "I got stungted already this fall. So I will wait for you by the car." xoxo

I use a couple of cupheas in my flowerboxes every year. Batface is nice but I really like Tiny Mice. They look just like tiny mice. With red faces and purple ears. If any cupheas grow naturally here I don't know of them. Hm. I do have a horticulturist for a niece...

Here in Orange County, North Carolina, our roadside wildflowers have been lush this summer into fall. There is a large colony of rosepinks on the side of Old 86 not far from where I live. It is one of my favorites too, and I was ecstatic to find such a robust stand of this beautiful flower. I took pictures ... wish I knew how to send you one! Thanks to you post, I now intend to go back and collect seeds!

Musicmom, if you could meet Chet you'd know it isn't just my voice that makes him irresistible. He just is, an eternal puppy.
Murre, I also adore Cupheas "Batface" and "Tiny Mice." I can never find them around here any more. I went nuts when I found "Batface." It was my Plant of the Year that year.

Ah. What a nice thing to do, that phone call.

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