Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Surprise

My mother in law is not a gardener.  But she is an incredibly supportive woman and I love her enthusiasm. It was Jody's birthday on Monday and along with a present and birthday wishes for him she also enclosed a surprise for me.

What's in those bags?!
Any guesses why I'm smiling so?

Let's get a closer look.

Now you know why I was smiling.  Those bags are full of seed heads.  I don't know where she got them as she doesn't have a garden of her own.  And I don't know what they are either as this is how they were labeled.

I had a good laugh when I read that.  My mother does the same thing.  She often gives me seeds or cuttings and when I ask what they are she'll say "oh, you know, those red things that Mary has in her garden, they're really pretty, take them".  There are gardeners who have no use for labels.  I can understand that.  They tend to get lost in the dirt or otherwise go missing.  Or the nursery labeled the plant wrong to start with.  Or those scientific folk decide to move a flower from one genus to another.  Sometimes it's good to let go of our tendency to want to divide everything into different boxes and just say, hey that's a pretty yellow bushy flower.

That said, I am curious.  Mother in law lives in Montana, which is a USDA garden zone 4 so hopefully these seeds will grow in my Canadian zone 5 garden.  Let's take a closer look shall we.

These seed heads were labeled yellow gold magenta flower.   Guesses?

I KNOW!!     I KNOW!!

These are echinacea.  I'm thrilled as I'm intending to work on the wildflower meadow in coming years and these seeds will be a wonderful addition.

The seed head above was marked small red flower with white center.  I have a guess as to what these might be - possibly sweet william - but has anyone else got some thoughts on this?

I didn't get a photo of the yellow bushy flowers as they were quite small and delicate but I have a feeling it may be potentilla.  

The last pack of seeds contained these.

The envelope was marked yellow trumpet flower seeds.  These pods are thick and hard like a bean but the seeds are like small light flakes.  They make me think of a lily but I don't know of any lilies that produce a seed like this.  I'd love to hear some guesses if you got them.


  1. I love it!! What a lovely surprise and so nice to know that she knew she would warm your heart and prick your imagination with this thoughtful gift!

  2. Oh What fun - although I have to admit to getting quite hung up on the "real" names of things - but I love her descriptions and it will be great to grow them as see what arrives from the seed.


  3. I've got a drawer full of unmarked wildflower seeds. I knew what they were when I put them in there but over time some of them turn into ???.

  4. I agree with the Sweet William guess. I don't know what the pods are. It will be interesting to see.

  5. I knew it had to be either seeds or bulbs lol! I don't know what else would get you so excited:) I have various "seeds" in old film canisters and have NO IDEA what they are - they've been kicking around the house for ages. (I'm one of those non- labellers). Some I collected, some were given to me. I guess it will be a great surprise when I plant them (I hope!)

  6. Cool surprise. Can't wait to see the results after you plant them this Summer.
    My Mothers did the same thing with Zinnia seeds and I certainly had a colour surprise.
    I'm sure you will have the seeds nicely labeled and identified for next years planting.
    Hopefully you take some pictures.

  7. what a lovely surprise and such a clever MiL to know what pleases her DiL, another surprise when they grow and flower too, happy birthday to the furniture man, it's my sons birthday next week and would be my Dad's Friday, March is a good month, Frances

  8. She meant well. Plus you got a cute post out of it. Plus a surprise when they bloom.

  9. I say just sprinkle them all in a good location and see what comes up.

  10. That's so fun. No idea what the seeds are but I think your MIL is great.

  11. What fun! Please share pictures later in the summer after you've planted the seeds and the flowers grow!

  12. Oh, I love these kinds of surprises! I always plant them and then wait to see what comes up.

    I agree that the "small red flower with white center" is a dianthus of some sort.

    Do lillies make any sort of seed? I thought they were tuberous?

    I like echinacea. They are easy to grow, low-maintenance, last a long time, and attract butterflies. :-)

  13. That is such a great gift. Not only do you get seeds to grow, but you get the delight of utter surprise later in the season! Instead of trying to identify them, I would just plant them in a big new bed, all together, and see what comes up. It will be such fun to watch what develops (then label them, for heavens sake, for future reference!)

  14. I can't help but kept smiling throughout your post. Although your MIL is not a gardener and has no clue to the names of the seeds, she took the effort to describe them in a rather humorous way. It looks like a pleasant surprise.

  15. What a great gift and surprise! Can't wait to see your seeds start to grow. I am terrible at identifying seeds so I can't be of any help there.

  16. What a lovely gift, with or without the "true" names. I have a perennial that I am hoping will flower this year for the first time grown from seed given to me in a plastic bag by a friend just as I was leaving her house. She says they are pink and lovely. I can't wait - but will be asking for identification help once they do flower. Sorry, no idea what your intriguing mystery seeds are for, but am looking forward to finding out.

  17. Cat - She is truly a very thoughtful person.

    Karen - I tend to like names as well but I'll have to let go of that compulsion with these seeds.

    wiseacre - the treasure you're probably hiding in that drawer! You could plant your own wildflower meadow.

    Bonnie - that's good, I figured I could be totally off with that guess but maybe it wasn't so wacky after all.

    Jane - Looks like you'll have to bring all those canisters with you to Crofters Lane and see what comes up. won't that be exciting.

    The Witch - It really was a fun surprise. and as you point out, I'm likely to be even more surprised once they've been planted!

  18. Frances - A very happy birthday to your loved ones as well.

    Donna - She certainly did and it was much appreciated. A surprise package is always welcome.

    Carolyn - very good idea. I'm thinking of clearing a space out in the 'former lawn' and trying that. Although I might try a few indoors as well to see what comes up.

    Liz - well it makes two of us so it'll be an adventure for everyone!

    PlantPostings - I sure will. It'll be fun to see if the guesses were close.

    On My Soapbox - I've never grown lilies so I actually have no idea if they produce seed or not! I guess the trumpet part was making me think lilies but I could be way off on that one.

  19. Laurrie - looks like your a labeller!! okay I confess I am too but I'm trying to broaden my limits and accept that other people just enjoy flowers without knowing what they are.

    One - This is a wonderful surprise, mainly because she's not a gardener. That tells me she really thought about what I'd like. She makes me laugh but she's really a wonderful woman.

    Karin - Despite having volunteered with seed collectors for several years I still can't identify these seeds so don't you worry about it! We'll all get a surprise come summer.

    Janet - I love how easy it is so give seeds and spread some gardening love. We can compare photos in a few months and see if we can identify our treasures.

  20. What a wonderful surprise. Your MIL is charming and clever! gail

  21. Dirty Girl - they sure are. I can't think of anything better at this time of year.

    Gail - I sure got lucky when I found hubby, he's great and so is his family.

  22. those pods could actually be yellow trumpet vine .. campsis, i believe is the family name .. look after both yellow, and orange/red trumpet vines in one of my gardens .. it was only in the last couple of years that i reaized they have pods of seeds .. so, maybe mom in law is right .. i guess you'll find out in the end ..

  23. Jane - thanks for this info! I think you're right, the seed pods like exactly like the yellow trumpet vine. I did a little reading online and now I'm not sure I want to plant them, seems they can be invasive. What's your experience with them? Any problems with the root system sending out shoots in other spots?