one of my September posts, talking primarily about a new-to-me plant that we noticed, I also shared a photograph of one of the roadsides we came across. It only seems reasonable to repost that photo here, since I'm craving some color and greenery at this time of year!
A month or so later (late October? November?), we went back to the areas we'd scouted and I picked a few seedheads from many of the plants I'd noted earlier, storing the seedheads in small, brown paper, lunch sacks to allow them to finish drying.
Today I took the next step and roughly cleaned the seed (to get it off the flower stalks so it would spread more evenly), then went outside and cast it onto any bare ground I could find. In some places, I even cast it up into the air to let the wind carry the seeds, particularly the ones with "parachutes," to potential new sites.
The first species I tackled this morning was Maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximilianii. This species was one I actually collected along the stretch of road in the photo above, along with several other types of seed. My goal as I worked was to get as much of the seed out of the dried flower heads as possible, so that I could spread it out further and evenly as I scattered it.
Since I wanted to put the Maximilian sunflower in the front yard, along the fence by the driveway to provide some color there, I worked it by itself, but most of the rest of the seed I combined into batches with like cultural needs (sun vs. shade, for example) and spread as a group. Below is a photo of one of those mixes, ready to be put into a bowl to carry outside.
This mix includes big bluestem, Indian grass, 3 different goldenrod species, blue salvia, common evening primrose, Illinois bundleflower, and a little bit of leadplant and butterfly milkweed seed that I actually got from a Kansas Native Plant Society seed exchange. I spread this mix in the back 5 acres, in the area where we burned last spring. Because of the drought, the burned area did not redevelop good ground cover, so I thought there might be a bit more sunlight and less root competition for the developing baby plants.
As you look at the mix of seeds, notice how fluffy it looks. This is due to the awns that so many of these seeds sport, allowing the seeds to use the wind to carry them away from the parent plant. The very structures that solve a problem "in nature" actually create a problem if you are trying to use a mechanical spreader to seed a large area. Since I was hand scattering, the fluffy seed actually brought out a little bit of the kid in me occasionally, as I tossed the seed up in the air to watch the wind catch it and carry it away.
Doing all the cleaning and scattering took longer than I expected, so I didn't get all the seed put out today. I still have several different kinds of sunflower to process and scatter. However, I was able to spread most of the seed I'd collected...before the rain came that's predicted for tonight and all day tomorrow. It will take a couple years before I know if any of these seeds have germinated and grown, but meanwhile I'll be dreaming of the drifts of wildflowers to come!
If I don't miss my guess, that's thunder I'm hearing in the distance!