At the end of the dry season my garden is just that; at a glance many of the native plants look dry, and dead; but once you look more closely there’s always a bit of green within the brown. Plants are dormant, but definitely not dead; seeds are abundant, as are all the creatures coming to the garden to partake in this abundance.
Seeds so clearly represent the end of one cycle of life and the beginning of another: And the start of the Rainy Season also heralds the beginning of a new year for native plant gardeners. Here in California we really have only three seasons; the rainy season, the wildflower season, and the dry season. We’ve had a mere sprinkling at the beginning of October, and it won’t be long before our hills turn green again. I’ve already noticed annual wildflowers germinating in areas where I hand-water.
MORE PLANTS BY DIVISION
This is an excellent and fairly easy way to propagate many spreading perennials and grasses, once they have established ‘colonies’ within the garden. Plants that increase by tubers, corms, bulbs, rhizomes or runners can also be propagated by division.
CLONING - PLANTS FROM PIECES!
It is possible to grow a whole new plant from a tiny piece because plants possess TOTIPOTENCY; which means that every living cell of that plant contains the genetic information necessary for reconstituting all the plant parts and functions!
If you are working with old seed you can do a simple viability test before sowing. Use a damp paper towel, lay ten seeds onto one-half of the towel, fold the other half over, and keep moist. Watch for the development of the radicle; the number of seeds that germinate will give you a rough percentage of viabilty of your seed.
I’ve been gardening for a very long time; always growing something; even if its just a few summer veggies, flowers and herbs, houseplants, or natives for my two acre ‘Home Ground’ habitat garden. As any dedicated gardener will tell you, propagating at least some of the plants you’re using is an integral part of any ‘real’ garden; and so is having a ‘home nursery or hold area’.
Seeds are one of nature’s miracles; the whole history of the plant, the evolution of a species over millions of years, is encased in this often tiny package !
A seed is an earthbound spaceship; it is a time capsule, with a tiny, embryonic plant waiting in suspended animation until conditions are suitable for its optimum growth, and the only time that a plant is not auto-trophic.
A seed is a package enclosing a living embryo.
HOW DOES A SEED FORM?
The flowers of a plant are designed for the purpose of making seeds. If a flower is pollinated, then fertilization can take place, and a seed develops in the ovary of the plant. This is sexual reproduction, and ensures genetic diversity. As the fertilized seed develops, so does the fruit (pome, pod, or capsule, etc.) which surrounds the seed.
Some seeds have built-in mechanisms that prevent germination until ideal conditions are met. Even when perfect conditions are met, some of the ‘seed bank’ of a species will not germinate. They will wait, often camouflaged in the duff, as an insurance policy against a possibly disastrous growing season.
Whenever I'm out collecting I always keep it foremost in my mind that seeds are food. Food for all sorts of insects and other invertebrates, food for birds, rodents and other mammals, including humans!