It's easy to feel dejected about my small urban lot. There are so many exciting plants I'd love to have but never enough space. Today I redirected my yearning for a pineapple guava bush of my own into a zone 5 adventure. I walked to a commercial building that is surrounded on three sides by a pineapple guava hedge, presumably just for ornamental reasons. I came home with a huge bag of fruit. It was more than I could have grown in a whole season on one bush.
Winter is steadily approaching which means summer annuals are giving in and becoming dried seed dispensers. Just the other day i went on an urban zone 5 adventure to get a few grocery bags full of wild sunflower seed heads. I also have my eyes on a willow that i plan to take cuttings from. I found a good source of staghorn sumac, vetch, mullein, cherry cuttings, and acorns, pecans. In the past i have procured some perennials in urban zone 5 like lavender, sage, Echinecea, mints.
My plan is to make an annual hedgerow built with just wild seeds along the easements of my property. So far i am thinking sunflowers with purple hyacinth bean and morning glory trailing throughout, add some lambsquarter, sorghum, cilantro, and i think i will have a productive hedge for me and the birds.
I had never thought of outside our own property as zone 5.... but we do that too! Our city has an Arboratum at Sunnidale Park and we go there for many reasons. We collected mulberries to eat this year! Wonderful! And we have collected nuts there, seeing as it is the same sand as our property (if it grows at the park it'll grow here.) I am now checking out the edges at the park to see what is thriving. Of course, size matters. Sumach is fine there at the park but won't fit in our yard.
We also go out of town on rail-trail walks, where I have collected seed for native plants (perennials mostly). A danger with that is (1) watching out for the poison ivy while collecting, and (2) being sure of a plant when it is already gone to seed. (A year ago, I collected a lovely seed, only to discover that it is a rampant invader called "dog-tangling vine".)
zone 5 continental cold temperate
I live near the river trail and love to wild craft from the area, as well as around the downtown area, especially municipal flowerbeds in the fall.
In the past I've collected seeds for blackeye susans, echinacea, lambs ear, and other plants that my tax dollars bought and will be ripped out for the winter. I also go over to Wally World and cut sumac seed heads for sumac lemonade. They have about 40+ planted as part of their landscaping. There's also a small bush with red pones that I liked but have since learned that it's cottoneaster, which is poisonous.
In the spring and early summer I go around the county and cut green phragmite reeds as fodder for my rabbits. The state has given me permission to cut down as many as I want since they consider them a noxious weed. But like I told them, some of the reeds are native and not invasive while the others I'll cut or pull. They don't care as long as I burn any seed heads and rhizomes. They also make great mats to act as windbreaks during the winter and shade during the summer.
Free pallets all around town, but I only grab the ones marked HT (heat treated); brazillian cherry posts from a tile and counter company; plywood from cabinet companies (prebuilt cabinets get shipped in plywood crates); free wood chips delivered from an out-of-state tree trimming company on gov't contract; growing pots from landscaping companies: coffee chaf from a roasting company that I mix with wood shavings from local wood turners as litter for my hen house floor (can't use that for my rabbit litterboxes cause they want to eat it). Oh, and free manure from horse stables when I build hugels from broken pallets, free tree trimmings, and cabinet shop waste.
There are tons of resouces out there, just keep your eyes open.