Trees with Seeds

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This time a year it’s easy to spot trees with seeds. Some are very colorful like the magnolias (they remind me a little or red M&Ms)

And the dogwoods.

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Others are mostly brown like the golden rain trees

And maples (some trees shed their samaras in the spring…others, like these at Brookside Gardens, wait until the fall)

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And red buckeyes with the buckeye nut showing where the mottled brown and green husk has cracked.

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Then there are seeds that are still green…that will take more time to mature and dry…ready to be shed next spring. The tulip poplar seed pods are still closed in the fall…the seeds not yet mature. We always accumulate a lot of tulip poplar seeds in our gutters in the spring.

The sycamore seeds will get softer…the balls feeling almost ‘furry’ by the time they break apart dispersing the small seeds in the spring. Each bump on this immature seed ball will become a sycamore seed! When I show tulip poplar and sycamore seeds to preschoolers on spring field trips, they are always awestruck my how small they are compared to the trees!

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Brookside – May 2019

I’m just now getting around to posting some pictures I took at Brookside Gardens in May: the butterfly exhibit, the conservatory – and everything blooming outdoors. So many subject to photograph – flowers, immature seed pods, seeds, leaves, garden furniture and fountains….peonies, poppies, magnolias, alliums, maples, dogwood…what’s not to like. Enjoy the big slideshow!

The side of the conservatory not used for the butterfly exhibit always has interesting plants in bloom – or photo worthy in other ways (like giant water droplets on green leaves).

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The door that volunteers and staff use is surrounded by greenery. Somehow it seems bigger this year.

I arrive 15 minutes before my shift in the butterfly exhibit. Sometimes I have a few minutes between the orientation and the arrival of the first visitors arriving to photograph butterflies.

May is a big month in the gardens. I have a series of Brookside Gardens rose pictures that I’m saving for another post.

Brookside Gardens at end of September – part I

The growing season is waning, but there is still plenty to see at Brookside Gardens when we went last weekend. Some plants have already produced their seeds – the sumac and sunflowers and castor beans among them.

The magnolia pods are as colorful as the seeds. Some of the seeds have already been eaten by birds or squirrels.

But there are still flowers to see too. I spent time photographing asters with tiny water droplets still coating them from the morning dew.

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But there are other things still blooming as well.

There were some lights that were turned on covering the trunks and lower branches of trees around one of the court yards – evidence that the crew putting up lights for the holiday light show has already started.

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This time of year, we are seeing the last of the magnolia blooms for the year. I like the white blooms with the velvet brown underside of the leaves.


Even when the flowers start to fade, their deepening color is appealing. These two flowers were on a Southern Magnolia tree at Brookside Gardens that did not look quite healthy. I hope this bloom time was not its last. It often seems that stressed trees make a huge push to make seeds.


And then there are the seed pods. There are variations with the different varieties of magnolias, but I always imagine that the seeds look like red M&Ms. I mentioned during a pre-school field and one child told me – with a very serious face – “except they don’t have an ‘M’ on them”! My favorite pods are on the sweet bay magnolia because they are more seed – less pod and the specimens near where I hike with students are low enough for them to easy see them.

Zooming – August 2018

Bugs and flowers and butterflies and spider webs and seed pods and bird feet– oh my! I really do enjoy the extra zoom capability of my new camera. I am using the monopod if I can anticipate going to 65x…since it’s too difficult to compost the picture otherwise. I might eventually give in and use a tripod although not when I am going to be moving about. Lugging a tripod is never going to be something I want to do!

Enjoy the show!

Brookside Gardens – April 2018

The day after we were at Arlington Cemetery, we walked around Brookside Gardens. It is one of my favorite places to take visitors to our area. We decided to walk around outdoors first.

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 There were several kinds of deciduous magnolias blooming. Last year many of them were caught in a late frost so I was glad to see them.

The crocus and snowdrops were done for the year but there were other bulbs providing color and there will be tulips soon; they are just beginning to send up their buds.

I saw a stump that I hadn’t noticed before beside one of the paths I use frequently. It’s rotting from the outside in!

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Now sprouting plants draw are colorful…draw attention with their textures as well.

When we went inside the conservatory, the warm moist air felt good after being out in the cold. There was a lot of work going on in the building. The room where the butterfly exhibit will be by the end of the month was completely closed and the other room was getting some new plantings. I noticed that the large white bird-of-paradise plant had a lot of dried flowers and a few that were still fresh. We warmed up – made a quick stop at the gift shop – and were on our way – pleased with our morning out and about.

First field trip of the season

The spring field trips have begun. I volunteered for the first pre-school field trip last week provided by Howard Country Conservancy at Belmont. It was the day everyone went back to school after our big snow and there still patches of snow on the ground. It was a sunny day but very chilly. The children arrive in cars with a parent (or two) rather than a bus. They were mostly 3 years old…a few had recently had a 4th birthday. They were bundled up enough that we walked around and looked at trees. The maple trees were blooming and had a branch that I could show them the flowers closeup. One little boy noticed that the color was redder in the sunlight but was almost black when the branch was in my shadow.  I learn something every time I do these field trips!

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We talked about how seeds are planted – sprout – grow…Then started looked for tree seeds. They were thrilled to find sweet gum balls under one of the trees.

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I also showed them a magnolia seed pod…also from under the tree.

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We all pretended to be a tree seed growing in a forest – growing tall – and our branches moving in the breeze. Then we went inside and I shared a tiny tulip poplar tree (root and small shoot). The leaves had started unfurling because I’d had it inside for the past three weeks. The children warmed up while they learned about butterflies and the animals in the nature center. We learned a little about birds then trekked back outdoors to see and hear them. Unfortunately, it was a very quiet morning. We did see a hawk and the children remembered that they has seen geese on the pond earlier.

A good time was had by all!