Although it's only October and we are experiencing some lovely Autumn weather here in Norfolk, my mind can't help thinking ahead to the Winter and the first frost which will spell the end of my annual flowers and dahlias.
There will still be flowers to pick from the cutting garden to display in the house over the winter months (Hellebores, Snowdrops, Cyclamen etc..) but production does inevitably slow down. A lovely way of prolonging the season is to display the dried seed heads of flowers grown in the cutting garden.
The spectacular, explosive seed heads of Allium christophii dry with a fabulous purple tinge to the flower spikes. Sprayed silver, they make great hanging Christmas decorations but I do prefer them 'au naturel' for displaying year-round.
Smaller, but still impressive, are the seed heads of Scabiosa stellata 'Ping Pong' which I have grown for the first time this year, purely for their seed heads. The actual flowers themselves are a rather underwhelming wishy-washy lilac colour whereas the seed heads, with their papery cups encasing each seed, are very unusual.
Poppies dry easily and are very sculptural. I love the frilly end cap.
Nigella or 'Love-in-a-mist' produce lovely balloon-shaped seed heads, some with attractive vertical strips.
How to dry your own seed heads
Allow some flowers to go up to seed and pick the seed heads when they are fully ripe but before they start to degrade and weather. Mature seed heads of poppies and Nigella will rattle, Scabiosa 'Ping Pong' will feel papery, whereas the heads and stems of Alliums will have started to fade in colour. It's important to harvest them on a dry day as any moisture will cause them to go mouldy. Pick with as long a length of stem as you can (you can cut them to size later). Tie the stems together in small bunches (singly for large Alliums) and hang them upside down in a warm, dry place such as a shed or airing cupboard. They should be ready in 2-3 weeks.