Seed Heads for all Seasons

An insight into some of the brilliant seed heads you can be looking out for in your garden this winter. 

Just when you think the bright days spent admiring your garden are over and the winter has set in, an overnight frost will cover your outdoor space in a glistening white blanket and reveal beauty you hadn’t noticed before. 

Some of our herbaceous plants will retain their seed heads over winter, which, are not only beautiful when dusted in frost, but can surprisingly provide an important resource for many wildlife groups during a period when food can otherwise be in short supply. This can come from the seeds themselves, which could be eaten by smaller songbirds such as blue tits, goldfinches or house sparrows.  Birds may also pick out the diverse range of invertebrates such as beetles, spiders and ladybirds, possibly making their home within the structures. Even small mammals may take advantage, with harvest mice being known to occasionally overwinter within dense borders and may forage among the seed heads on milder days.

Here are some of the seed heads to be looking out for in your garden this winter.

  • Phlomis russelliana, also known as Jerusalem sage or ‘Ladybird Hotel’, has a seed head with an unusual and complex structure. This holds up well over winter, providing not just an interesting feature in your garden, but a winter home for invertebrates such as ladybirds. The seeds can also provide a helpful food source for garden songbirds in those colder months.
  • Most Alliums look fantastic in the winter. A few particularly special ones are Allium christophii and Allium schubertii.
  • Lunaria seedheads have such a magical quality when the light shines through them, they look as if they are glowing.
  • Grasses look so elegant in the frost. I particularly like varieties with tall, delicate flower spikes, such as Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea and Deschampsia cespitosa.
  • Poppies have the sweetest pods and also look great when dried and used as natural Christmas decorations.
  • Echinacea pompoms are so impressive once coated in frost.

By Ruby Simpson – Garden Designer 

Allium Seed Head 

Lunaria Seed Head 

Molinia Seed Head

Deschampsia Seed Head

Echinacea Seed Head 

Poppy Seed Head 

The Nicholsons Design Studio has been designing beautiful gardens since 1997. We are best known for work with manor houses, country estates, heritage properties and Oxford town houses for private clients. If you are interested in improving your garden, please contact us on