Fennel flower head with water drops

Going to Seed!

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Although the phrase ‘going to seed’ suggests going into a decline, I’m usually happy to see seed heads in the garden. (Not all, mind you – weeds may not be so welcome!) For a garden photographer they are another opportunity to create an image. That’s especially welcome at a time of year when there are fewer flowers and plants to photograph.

Seed heads are, of course, very valuable for wildlife too. The seeds are a good source of food for birds in winter and, before that stage, the flowers are a great source of pollen for insects.

The seed heads here are bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’). In the top picture, there are still many of the tiny yellow flowers but you can also see the brownish/orange ridged shapes of the newly-formed seeds. I was attracted to it by the neat drops of melted frost encasing them. (This was a young plant that had flowered very late and got caught by the first of the frosts last year.)

In winter, the seed heads of fennel provide a very graceful shape for frost to decorate. The frost in the second photo was especially hard and covered the whole garden with its delicate filigree. The air was so cold that the frost had time to glitter in the sun for a little while before it melted. We haven’t had any frost yet this year, but I’ll be checking the fennel plants when it arrives! Hopefully it will last long enough for me to take some more sparkly photographs.

Frosted fennel seed head
Frost makes this fennel seed head glisten.

13 thoughts on “Going to Seed!

    1. This year I’ve had to remove quite a lot of the larger fennel plants to make room for a bog garden but I’ve left the seed heads on the ground in an area where I hope they’ll seed around. (And, knowing fennel, I’ll probably end up with dozens of seedlings there.)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I couldn’t figure out Steve’s comment until I read a bit about the plant. The Missouri Botanical Garden included this helpful note: “Genus name comes from the Latin name for this traditional salad and potherb which, in Italian, is called finocchio.” And that’s no Pinocchio!

    I really like that first photo. As pretty as the frost is, the colors and water droplets make for a very nice image. Most of the plants in the family are attractive, and for a newbie like me, they have the added advantage of being easily recognizable! I hope you get some nice frosts this year, and plenty of opportunities to photograph your frosted fennel.

    Liked by 1 person

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