Snow on anemone seed head

Snow Day

We were greeted by snow this morning, but by the time you read this it will be gone. It won’t last for even the full day because it has now started to rain.

But it has given me an excuse to post an image with just a little bit of wet snow. This is a seed-head of a Japanese anemone. I was attracted to photographing it by the cap of melting snow that it’s wearing, and by the way the drops of meltwater are clinging to the fluffy hairs of the seeds.

It’s interesting to see how these seed-heads start as perfect tiny spheres and then erupt into little woolly clusters of seeds that can float away in the wind. I allow them to stay in the garden over the winter. A few years ago, tidy-minded gardeners would insist that the old stems and seed-heads ought to be cut back and taken away at the end of the year. Times have changed, and now we’re encouraged to leave them standing as a habitat and food for wildlife.

With luck, goldfinches will come and help themselves to these seeds. (I’ve already noticed them eating the seeds of verbena bonariensis in the last week.) And if the heads survive until springtime, the remainders will probably be gathered up when the goldfinches are building their nests. I often see these birds with their beaks full of the fluffy seeds and think that they must be creating the cosiest and most comfortable homes for their babies. So I won’t be cutting back any of these seed heads. The birds are very welcome to them.

10 thoughts on “Snow Day

  1. I didn’t know until relatively recently (the past two or three years) that birds use seed fluff for their nests. It makes sense, since so many fluffs are both warm and water resistant. After all, at one time milkweed fluff was used for life vests. I enjoyed the details in this short article.

    There’s a lot going on in your photo. Those little bubbles are especially interesting, and the way the ice has spread as it forms on the fluff is strangely attractive.

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    1. I didn’t know that milkweed fluff was used in life vests – seems that we invent a lot because nature helps us. šŸ™‚ The ice started off as snow but had started to melt and spread – it rather amused me to see it as a chilly little hat! (Now I shall go and check out that link…)

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    1. I hope it will help, Indira. I’m trying to make my garden more wildlife-friendly. Luckily there are all sorts of books and wildlife sites with good advice about what can be done in the garden – I have lots of reading to do!

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    1. It must be all warm and cosy in those nests! The goldfinches look quite comical when they have their beaks stuffed with the seeds – there’s usually a lot of fluff sticking out. Sadly I’m not quick enough to get a decent photo…but I shall keep trying!

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    1. Thank you Syd! I’m editing images taken over the last few weeks rather than going outside to look for more to photograph, so it’s easier to stay warm and dry. (Still doing at bit of work in the garden when it’s milder and I feel energetic – but not a lot!)

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  2. Your picture of the seed head in ice reminds me of a mass of salamander or newt eggs. I guess a lingering snow and the cold it accompanies wouldn’t make you happy but you did make something good from it. šŸ™‚

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