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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Clematis Seeds Pods

I recall a friend who had just bought a new home complete with established garden, asking about a plant that she wasn’t entirely certain wasn’t a weed. She described it this way, “The flower looks like a spider kinda thing but also like a dandelion. You know, one puff and a million seeds go everywhere. Should I yank it out before it takes over the yard?”

While I wasn’t in her new garden to tell her with absolute certainty that what she had there was a very coveted Clematis vine, when she described the seed pods, I knew exactly that was what she had.  I laughed and  told her, “You can only wish they would spread all over the place. It would be the very best “weed” you could have growing in your garden. Don’t touch it. You’ll love it come next spring and if you can, save me some seeds.”

Yes, that’s one of my things, asking my friends (and the occasional enemy, stranger or close relation) to save the seeds for me. Some do, some don’t. Some just don’t know when the seeds are ready to harvest. That’s easy enough. When the seeds take on a billowy texture, when they look, like my friend said, like dandelions, one puff and they blow away. They take on a dry look when they are perfect for picking and they are very easy to pull off the plant. Try it. Tug on the seed pods and you can feel them resist. This means they are not ready yet. But as soon as they no longer resist, that’s when they come right off and are ready to be tucked into an envelope for storage until planting time next season.

Although most people would think me quite insane for saying this, I believe the Clematis gone to seed is just about the prettiest thing about the Clematis vine. Yes, I know the flowers are some of the most spectacular in the vine world, but have you ever really taken a gander at the seed pods? They look like something out of a Dr. Seuss illustration. Ever seen a truffula tree? Look familiar to you? Well, it should, but only if you don’t go clip-happy and deadhead all your Clematis vines!

Seed heads of the Clematis is rather different looking and, I find, adds another aspect to the entire plant. I know they intrigued me enough when I first spotted them in a garden nursery many years back before I even knew what a Clematis vine was. I liked the seeds so much that I simply had to pluck some off and surreptitiously stuff them into my pocket. Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone.

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