Lifestyles

Steele: Seed saving project underway

A bumble bee collects late-season pollen and  nectar from Gaillardia (blanket flower). These xeriscape plants feed pollinators from June to frost.  - Gwen Steele/contributor
A bumble bee collects late-season pollen and nectar from Gaillardia (blanket flower). These xeriscape plants feed pollinators from June to frost.
— image credit: Gwen Steele/contributor

UBC Okanagan professor Nancy Holmes is currently collecting Gaillardia (blanket flower) seed for an interesting community art project.

If you can harvest and save Gaillardia seed for her, she will pick it up to store for paper-making workshops. Contact her at nancy.holmes@ubc.ca or 250-764-9666.

Workshop participants will be embedding hand-made paper with Gaillardia seeds. It is an excellent plant for this area—drought-tolerant, friendly to pollinators, and a vigorous long-season bloomer.

Nancy explains the project: “The art show, For All is For Yourself, was launched in September 2015 at the Richmond Art Gallery with 10,000 paper bumblebees embedded with Gaillardia seeds.

“Five thousand of those paper bees will be swarming out of the gallery in mid-winter for Richmond people to plant in their gardens. The remaining five thousand bees will be coming to Kelowna.

“From February to April, we’ll be making our five thousand Gaillardia-embedded bees here in Kelowna.”

If you belong to a community group that would like to make the paper, please contact her.

This is part of a series of projects held in conjunction with the creation of a Public Art Pollinator Pasture in a section of the Brent’s Mill Heritage Park.

The native and dryland plant meadow will benefit a multitude of essential pollinators (including bees, butterflies, and birds) using community art as the driver for critical community engagement and site transformation.

For more information check blogs.ubc.ca/theecoartincubator/public-art-pollinator-pasture/.

If you are collecting seed for yourself, make sure to let it dry out thoroughly. Store seeds in labeled paper envelopes or bags in a cool, dry place.

Many seeds need to be stratified, or go through a freeze cycle before they will break dormancy.

This can be achieved by storing them in an unheated shed or garage or sealing them in a waterproof container then putting them in the freezer until planting time.

A simpler way is to plant them now if they are from hardy plants that survive our winter, or seeds such as marigolds that tend to self-seed in the garden.

The fall planted seeds will germinate and begin growing when they are ready, utilizing the moist soil of early spring.

A lovely gift can be made by saving your own flower seeds, then sealing them into little hand decorated envelopes with the plant name and description.

These could also be made by children and are an easy gift to send in the mail.

***

Last week I forgot to tell you to rake up all walnut leaves and put them in the green bin.

They, and red cedar, contain a substance that impedes growth of other plants.

***

Brian Minter will present The Changing World of Gardens at Okanagan College Theatre on Nov, 14, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.

Parking is also free for this event, sponsored by the Okanagan Master Gardeners (okanaganmg@gmail.com).

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