Sunday, May 8, 2016

GOING TO SEED

This is the second year I will let my Italian parsley, Petroselinium neapolitanum, flower and go to seed. I will probably do so for the rest of my gardening life. The insects adore those tiny flowers. In the warm sunshine it isn't just the bees, but all manner of insects, most of which I am unable to identify. It might be easier if I could just get a good shot of them but they just don't like that camera lens moving in on them.


Parsley nectar attracts many beneficial insects and encouraging them may even protects plants such as tomatoes from the tomato hornworm caterpillar. That would be a bonus. And right by the side of the parsley plant is my newly made bug hotel. It's early days yet but someone has already moved in.


When a friend came over with her camera with new macro lens the other evening I gave her a mission. A nice close-up of those parsley flowers. Of course the bees had gone home for the night but she managed to capture this ladybird feasting on the parsley.


Yesterday, I tried once again but my camera has trouble finding the right focus. I wonder if I need to try manual?


Is this a big-eyed bug? Either way it has a big head.


Who is this?


And the ladybirds were back again only this one has spots.


Last year when the seeds were ripe I took down the plants and carried them out and threw them under the cedar trees on the edge of the septic field. I have often taken plants to this area and there is quite a garden there now. Among the plants growing is a nice field of parsley. The poor quality of the soil there has meant the plants have not grown much-unlike those in the herb garden.


The grasses are in full seed mode. In the herb garden, Mexican feather grass, Nassella tenuissima, and Ruby crystal grass, Melinis nerviglumis, caught in the morning sun.


Both these grasses need to be controlled a little as they are a little too generous with their seeds. The older ones need to be pulled out.


The same is true of the bluebonnets. I have been snipping off the ripe seed heads every day and putting them in brown paper bags until planting time in the fall.


Clearly I have missed some.


After losing the whole of last years crop to the hail it is a relief to see the seed bank filling up again. By the end of the week I should be able to remove all the dead, dried foliage and the garden will start to look a lot tidier.
But there are those plants whose seed heads put on quite  a show. First it was the poppies and now it is the Love-in-a-mist, Nigella sp. They are wonderful in dried arrangements.


Before they went to seed they put on a wonderful show, returning year after year in all different colors.


I heard the designer Bunny Guinness espouse the growing of Nigella in the rock garden where they never achieve their full height. She was right. Seed away as much as you like.

7 comments:

  1. Oh-those Nigella are beautiful--the colors are so soft. I'd let them seed themselves too.

    I let Milkweed and Solidago run wild in my garden because they seem to be the big attraction--often keeping pests off my vegetables. It's good to let Nature "rule" at times.

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  2. Lovely! The bugs on your parsley are fun to see, even if I can't help you identify any...

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  3. Yay for the return to more sturdy numbers of bluebonnet seeds! I've missed the boat getting most of mine again this year. I typically wait too long to harvest, fearing I'll pull the pods before the seeds are mature but when I go back to check again - nothing but whirled coverings, parted by propulsion! Usually I want the areas to reseed anyway so little harm done, but it is nice to have some in reserve. Perhaps I'll get some today before the heat cranks all the way up (predicted high of 90 today...ugh).

    Your parsley success story is inspiring. I get caterpillars in mine when I let it go to seed so I started planting several at a time in an effort to have some on hand for cooking as well as some for the pollinators. As to your citrus - I bet the bees will find it - how could they resist that sweet aroma? Plenty of grapefruit growing in the Rio Grande Valley - surely the bees know what to do.

    Happy May!

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  4. Interesting. Personally, I found that Nigella made itself a bit of a pest here in Tennessee through excessive self-sowing. I probably wouldn't mind if it were a native, but it isn't and I'm always wary of unleashing the next uncontrolled exotic invader. (Although I agree that it really isn't pushy enough to displace much else.)

    Your parsley photos look good to me! (My camera is even worse at macro than yours, so I think you did a good job capturing some of the insects visiting those flower umbels...)

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  5. Great idea to put the parsley seed out in the garden for beneficial insects. I keep some for cooking near the house but there's not a lot of room.

    Autofocus is tricky when there's a lot of foliage around, manual focus works well if you can get the subject to sit still!

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  6. I didn't realize that parsley flowers were so pretty - perhaps I'll let ours go to seed as well. The cilantro goes to seed without any permission on my part and I've come to enjoy its flowers too (as do the bees).

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  7. Thank you so much for letting me come over and play in your garden. There was so much eye candy in colors and textures it made my head swim and my camera happy! I am THRILLED and flattered to see some of my shots published on your blog. THANK YOU!

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