One of the few plants that was growing on this property when we moved here was Lunaria. I had never grown it before and really didn't pay it much attention.
Lunaria is a biennial, meaning that it lives two years. The first year it only grows foliage and the second year it blooms and scatters seeds. If you want your biennials like Lunaria to return year after year you have to let them go to seed.
The good news about Lunaria is that it has an interesting seed pod so people tend to leave it alone until it finishes scattering it's seed.
I have seen beautiful bunches of Lunaria seed pods in other homes or for sale at garden shops but the Lunaria in my garden always looked dingy to me. I just figured I had a different type and never really looked too closely.
This week I began to clean out a bed which had the above shown clump of Lunaria in it. As I was working near it I discovered something I had never known before.
Here's a close up shot of the Lunaria. See how dirty some of the seed pods are? They are transparent enough so you can easily see the seeds inside them.
I was under the impression that there were two outter pieces and the seeds were on the inside. Now I know I was wrong. There are three thin pieces of pod. Two outside pieces and one inside one that is protected from the rain and dirt of the garden.
Cutting off the dried branches as close to the soil as possible I started to clean each individual pod. It just takes a light rub with two damp fingers. Don't rub to hard or you'll rub off all three layers. Since I suddenly realized what a treasure I had here I wanted to save every seed possible so I did this over a piece of paper so I could gather the seed and scatter them in beds that didn't have Lunaria in the past.
See how nice and shiny the inner layer is?
Finally, here's the real treasure. A beautiful bunch of Lunaria in a simple old pitcher. This arrangement will last all winter long if not longer. I made sure I placed it in a spot where the sunlight would come through the pods. How I wish I hadn't weeded out so many Lunaria seedlings over the last years.
When I first made this discovery I came running in to show my two teenage daughters. It was a true "duh" moment as they looked at me and said "mom, how could you not know this?". Then they reminded me of all the years they played with the seed pods as they were young children. Emily told me that she always got three dollars from one pod. No wonder she acts like money grows on trees :-)
Lunaria has lots of nicknames. Around here we called it the "money plant" or "silver dollars". My girls used those seed pods as money for many an imaginary game. I guess I have to thank them for the fact that Lunaria is still growing in my garden.
Hopefully now I've scattered enough seeds in various beds that next year or the year after I will have lots and lots of bouquets to share with friends.