One of my favorite plants from this year's garden was Gomphrena 'Buddy Purple'. From the day I planted a flat of these annuals at the leading edge of our driveway border, they started churning out flower after everlasting purple flower.
The flowers have a dry texture to them, similar to Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflower), making them very resistant to heat, drought and cold. Even during the broiling, rainless heat we experienced this summer, 'Buddy Purple' did nothing but produce.
When temperatures dipped to 26F on Wednesday night, the foliage of the plants was damaged beyond recovery, but the flowers were simply dusted with a frosty coat. It was time to harvest.
Today, I removed the flower heads from the plants. As I was harvesting them, a neighbor walked by and asked if I was saving seeds. It was the logical question, but I wasn't pulling the flowers off to save the seeds. I was saving the flower heads themselves, as they retain their color when dried and make wonderful home accents. I'll dry them indoors on a cookie sheet for a few days, to make sure any foliage or stems desiccate before storing them in a jar. If they're not completely dry, mold could develop and ruin all the flower heads.
By next weekend, the Gomphrena flower heads will be placed in a glass jar and used as a bit of home decor, likely on the bookcases that hold my gardening library. As I work at my desk during the dormant months, I'll be able to glance over and smile at my jar full of summer.