Do you love Cottage Gardening?

The true Cottage garden can be viewed as messy and overgrown. But for those of us that love this look in our gardens – we just cannot have enough flowers for every nook and cranny possible in our garden beds.  You will love reading this post to find out how you can take just one of those blooms and harvest the seeds for many more garden blooms for next year. 
Now that fall has arrived ~ I see my garden still full of life. Well next years life that is…You can’t imagine what an amazing (& free) garden you can have if you carefully collect. harvest and plant your own seedlings.  9202Years ago I learned to save the packets that came in shoe boxes to place in a paper bag along with my seeds I am harvesting to keep the moisture away – many shoe stores will give you some by the handfuls if you just ask…

Let’s first take this gorgeous Delphinium.320089_244896738883176_192771690762348_671667_5009270_n[1] Now wouldn’t you just love to have these gorgeous blooms pop up in your garden.  The price of these beautiful plants can range from $5.99 – $19.99 in the nurseries – but if you collect your own seeds – they would be free! 051Let the flowers go to seed by awaiting for the blooms to fall off and then allowing the seed pods to develop!  You can see in this one pod below there are almost seven to ten plants that could possibly  develop from each one.You can leave them in the garden to fall and plant themselves or you can take the pods and put them in a paper bag to complete the drying process. I usually opt for the pod to dry in a paper bag. 053Once the seed has dried, place the seeds in the gardens about an inch under the soil. I usually place two or three seeds in the same hole to ensure that the plant will come up next summer. Sometimes the birdies scratch the dirt & then fly away with the seeds they can find in your garden beds

Next are the Coneflowers – coneflowers are so important for the wildlife in the gardens because they bloom at a time when much of the garden cannot tolerate the hot and dry temperatures.  They attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and all types of birds.  They come in all sorts of gorgeous colors now – but these too can be very expensive in your local nursery – I purchased one this summer for almost $24.00 because of it’s unique 317531_252653881440795_192771690762348_695681_1322991994_n[1]bloom.  I knew I only needed to buy one plant because I could harvest the seeds and replant throughout my garden for next year!
If you let this sweet bloom go to seed – be sure to watch it closely – in the past I have not cut the dried bloom back and had a mess of blooms the following year – yes, there is such thing as too much of a good thing! a garden can quickly become “out of control” if you allow everything to go to seed.

Can you see in the photo above that ever spike is actually a seed?  If you pull off all of those spikes and put them in them about a quarter inch below the soil – they too will become gorgeous blooms for next years garden.  Again, it’s okay to put a couple seedlings in the spot where you want a new plant, because the birds will sometimes carry them away!
Similar to the coneflower – the Scabiosa seeds can be collected the same way as the coneflower.  267634_221885437850973_192771690762348_606730_7106236_n[1]Although – these gorgeous blooms can be carried by the wind or birds or by you by just scattering on the soil.  No need to burry them. The seeds are found in the center of the flower which you will see after the blooms have faded by just bending the center in half – the seeds will just fall into your hands.
Scabiosa blooms are such a whimsical plant in the cottage garden!
Marigolds again, are a fabulous fall flower.  014In bloom when there is not much going on in the garden beds – a happy surprise for natures little miracles to see while scouting for food and nectar. 
You can see the photo below that by just bending the spent flowers remains – the seeds will just fall apart – allowing you to spread in the garden where you hope to see a bloom next year. 
017Just scratch these seedlings into the soil allowing just a small amount of soil to cover them.  

Commonly named as “Breadseed poppy”, but correctly named the “Opium Poppy” 260121_219146128124904_192771690762348_598326_6825712_n[1] is one of my most favorite garden plants one could possibly have in a cottage garden.  The color above is the only color I have – they are difficult to find – so if anyone out there wants to share seeds – please don’t hesitate to ask!  I would love to introduce another color of this gorgeous plant into my garden!  Allowing the flowers to fall off – and leaving the pods in the ground to develop from the gorgeous green to the fall colored brown will allow the top of the pod to eventually show the holes where the the seeds will eventually fall out by the wind.  There are thousands of seeds in each pod – I love spreading these seeds everywhere in the garden because they are gorgeous in numbers. They only need to be spread on top of the soil – which allows a number of reasons why they fail to appear the following year. Reasons are the birds and wind will carry them off. I have many times come out to the garden to find the pods have been gone missing – culprits being people (yes people steal these), rats, mice, squirrels, deer and anything else looking for the full meal deal!
A few annual favorites that are necessary in the cottage gardens are petunia's – most people don’t know that they can collect these seeds for next planting in the spring next year and just throw the leggy plants out at the end of the season with all the other annuals.  Not me, I love trying to start these garden gems in small pots in the spring and watch them develop into fantastic plants that I move to the gardens when ready!
Alyssum seed packets may range from $1.49 – $1.99, but why spend the money when you can spread your own? either collect the seeds and scatter in the fall or spring – up to you, it doesn’t matter!  They are such a fabulous filler wherever they pop up!  Scatter above ground and let the flower appear where they may.  This gorgeous bloom – one can never have too many! I pull them out (root & all) at the end of the bloom season & just lay the plants all over the gardens for the seeds to replant themselves – once it looks like the seeds have all fallen off – I pick up an dispose of the remains. 
284756_227861360586714_192771690762348_624813_5890138_n[1] 027

Pansies and Johnny jump ups are all the same the way I collect and respread their seeds.  223735_227863100586540_192771690762348_624828_8219328_n[1]After the bloom have fallen off, a pod will form – I usually only take the larger pods that have formed and spread them in the garden beds by just pinching them and letting them fall where they want.  Some come up and some are taken away & so easy to pull out & move if I want to naturalize another area with these sweet little plants.  When they grow leggy cut them back to the ground or just pull them out root & all – with in a few weeks of spreading the seed – another 100 or so plants will appear!  Many of these little plants will bloom throughout the year! slugs will devour the pods if able – but there are usually so many pods to choose from – it’s fine to share!  


222461_227864050586445_192771690762348_624856_1508095_n[1]Lavender is another cottage favorite for most gardens!  Actually almost any garden adore the lavender in their garden beds.  These too will spread by seed on their own. but I want to show you how to collect their seeds if you’d like.  The gorgeous blooms will disappear – once they have disappeared you will see what to me looks like a skeleton of the bloom.  If you catch them early enough right after the holes appear – you will be able to collect their seeds as well. 


The gaillardia is exactly like the coneflower family – only difference I have found is you must allow it to loose it’s flowers and turn brown – if you peel the seeds off to early they will not work – These too should be scratched into the soil to help establish a root system.

045My absolute favorite cottage flower is the snapdragon.  These can come up individually, or in masses in my garden – regardless of the color – I love them all and cannot have enough.  Very much like the delphinium – allowing the blooms to fall off and collect the pods is all you need to do – spread them atop of the soil is the only difference here!  they can be put out in the fall or spring, but find spreading them in the spring is the better way to go in my area!



As you can see – most flowers can be started from seed. Although it takes time and energy and sometimes saving the seeds in a paper bag till next spring – it is definitely worth the time to do so come the following summer.  Not only do you save money, but you can enjoy what becomes of the creation you have allowed because of your hard work and dedication.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post & hope you will become a follower of Fishtail Cottage! To see what I am linking to this week – please check my “Cottage Links” label…xoxo, tracie

PS ~ Cottage Flora Thursday’s Garden Party will be returning May 1st!

PS - Fishtail Cottage is now on Facebook


I need to bookmark this. Lots of great info! Perfect timing too....I was just pinning garden ideas on pintrest!

Thanks you
How nice to read this in January! I have flowerboxes on my front porch rail and every year my petunias come's so nice as long as I'm patient! I have a neighbor who has naturalized impatiens....I haven't achieved that yet, but I keep planting them and hoping they'll seed. I think my husband keeps covering them up too heavily with mulch actually...great post, makes me wish for spring!
I am starting my garden now and this is wonderful information. I love to let the flowers turn to seed and fall on the ground waiting for the next season to sprout. Love those freebies!! Great post!

Betty said…
If I lived near you I would be stealing some of your seeds. Lovely flowers. We are in winter and I will be buying seeds to plant indoors soon to put out in a few months. Now I will know how to find the seeds in the fall from the plants. Thank you.
I enjoyed the post today and enjoyed the photos of the flowere. I thought it was very intresting. Speaking as a fellow gardening friend have a great evening.....Julian
What great info you have passed on to us! I will have to give this a try for sure. I love my orange poppies and would love them to be in more areas of my garden. Your red ones are so pretty. I love my snap dragons, too. You are making me wish for spring!


PS..I can't wait to get my vintage zinc scoop!
This post is loaded with great advice! I was never clear on whether or not to let my flowers drop their own seeds or do it myself. I will have to try it this year! Thanks so much!

Tracie, a really good post,lots of information. Thank you for that. I already do collect seed,as I have a cottage garden, but I always keep the seeds in the shed in a paper bag and label, as we find, not only the birds but the ants get them otherwise.
xx jeanetteann
Sandy said…
Very helpful post. I did collect my seeds at the end of summer and have a good assortment ready to plant in a few weeks. Florida shops now have the annuals ready to sell but I'll wait till the weather gets a bit warmer haha, yesterday it was in the 80's and hot!
Nice post
Tammy said…
What great information! I have divided my cone flowers with good success, but didn't know I could use the seed heads.

Not you've got me thinking about Spring ;)
Great post! I can't wait for spring so I can start my garden! Thank you for all the information!
Linda said…
I love cottage gardens, and think that mine is one. I too, save all sorts of seeds to trade, give away and grow the following season. Looking forward to Cottage Florals starting up again.
Julie Marie said…
I am just like you Tracie, every inch of my cottage garden is always full... just like my great~grandmothers was and my grandmother's and my mama's... I learned from the best! All gardens are beautiful, but I don't like a real formal garden where everything is in neat and tidy little rows... I want it to look just like Nature herself arranged it... I have been making notes in my garden journal and visiting the local nurseries already, I can hardly wait!... I too gather seeds to scatter, and also let the ones that drop "bloom where they are planted"... I said no more blog parties, but I am not sure I can resist joining in your Cottage Flora Thursdays... much love to you, xoxo Julie Marie
Anonymous said…
I have the same poppies and they have germinated everywhere more than anywhere else! I also have some pink color and grape color poppy seeds left from what I collected summer 2011 if you are interested. I share seeds and cuttings all the time. I didn't see larkspur on this post, do you need some of those seeds too? rusdar at hotmail dot com
HolleyGarden said…
Love this post! Happy to see the party returning.
Thanks for some great ideas and inspiration.
Your post was very interesting to read! Yes I love cottage gardens, however, I do not have one. Planning on having a cutting flower garden, herbs in raised beds. Also love climbing roses on a vine. So beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
Anonymous said…
I've got to do this next year. Thanks so much for all the great information!
Jennifer said…
I would love to share my poppy seeds with you. Mine are double, ruffled pink--like a pompon.
Hi Tracie
Excellent garden musing. I have written so many articles myself about cottage gardens and the plants to grow in them, it's nice to read another's perspective.
I look forward to sharing about our gardens starting up again in May.
Hi Tracie, Cottage garden is my true love! I let my flowers come where they fall. For me, the fuller the better. My garden is still young, but it's starting to become the garden I dreamed it could be. Last Fall I noticed lots of little Foxglove babies. Can't wait to see them perform. My lair of Larkspur has dumped seeds all over. I have green starts galore. Problem is, last year they killed a few other plants they were so thick. I love how they looked though. Always love your garden knowledge and can't wait to share again May 1st!
Decor To Adore said…
I adore cottage gardening!!! Alas the AZ soil does not.

I was SO very excited to see that the makeup artists were your sisters. How fun!
You wrote a lovely post. I've had lots of luck with saving seeds and spring in northern Michigan would not be the same if I couldn't plant! Oh how I miss my gardens under the snow.
Nancy @ Two Cottages And Tea
Brilliant post! I've never collected seed before, you make it sound so easy - I'll give it a try!


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