I don't actually save seeds from plants in my own garden. And when I am smitten with a particular plant and buy a packet of commercial seeds, they tend to die of old age before I ever remember to plant them. Currently those old seed packets are cluttering up the spot in the garage where I keep my garden-related items like kneeling pads and gloves and twine.
But over the years I have amassed a collection of historic, political, sentimental, artistic, theatrical and literary seed packets. These seeds have all been gifts from traveling friends or items in press kits sent to members of the media in my newspaper days. This winter I decided to bring them out into the light of day by framing some of them in a shadow-box.
At first I thought I would display them on another piece of the silk I used for mounting the antique Chinese collar embroidered with birds and flowers. But I didn't like the effect and decided that something more neutral was required.
I decided that lightly textured drawing paper would not take attention away from the seed packets the way the silk did. I tried a number of different colors but finally opted for an army green, as you can see from the finished project below.
At first I hung the "box" on the wall in my workroom/studio. Then I decided to just set it on my desk where it leans against the wall next to my computer. This location means that I see it every time I sit down at the computer. And it is close enough that I can easily identify all the packets.
Literary seeds (top left): A wildflower mix from the 2004 press kit for "Whose Garden Is It," a children's book written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Jane Dyer.
Historic seeds: Nigella Damascene from Monticello (one of many quirky garden gifts from my former boss at The Capital Times newspaper, 1998)
Sentimental seeds: A memento given to those who attended Fred Risser's 90th birthday celebration last summer. It was a cold and rainy day but still a big turnout. Fred represents our district in the Wisconsin State Senate. He is the longest serving state legislator in the nation. Fred and his wife are also serious gardeners.
More historic seeds (bottom row): Yarrow seeds from Mt. Vernon and Reine Marguerite seeds (Aster chinensis) from the Jardin de Versailles.
Political seeds: Golden Bantam heirloom corn variety from Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign whose slogan was "Planting Seeds of Hope." If you ever want to hear a fiery, old-fashioned political speech that will get you ready to go door-to-door campaigning, go hear Dennis Kucinich.
Looking at this little shadowbox of seed packets you can't tell how much time I spent trying to figure out which packets to include based on size, color and imagery. Compare this seed package from Thomas Jefferson's garden with the framed one. This illustration of Columbine is charming but the image of the beautiful brick building in Jefferson's vegetable garden is iconic and tells you right away where those seeds are from.
This package of wildflower seeds is from a theatrical press kit for this 1998 movie. I don't see the connection but I love it none the less. But way too attention-grabbing to go in the shadow box. At this point Martha's seeds are historic as she doesn't sell them any more — and they're from 2000! Visually, they pair nicely with Cate Blanchett but not with my other seed packages.
Seeds from the Wisconsin Green party and a package from an art exhibit.
The other side of the above packages. The small envelope is from Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign. I don't really remember this art project but, according to myth, the flowers that sprang from Hyacinth's blood when he died were called hyacinthos. However, they are not our modern hyacinth but were probably some kind of fritillary. Thus I am not sure if it make sense to give out Hyacinth seeds as tokens of forgiveness. Maybe the artist knows something I don't.
This was another perfect little winter project — and nicely suited to display in a room devoted to art and gardening. Oh yes, I moved it back to a wall position but this one right next to the door into the studio where it can't be missed.