I was weeding the vegetable patch the other day and stopped myself when I saw a welcome little intruder, an Aquilegia seedling that had popped up randomly beside our rhubarb. I love these little finds in the garden, seedlings that have arrived from neighbour’s gardens, some of which I can identify the origin of, like the Stipa grass that I know my neighbour has mass planted at the end of her garden four doors away.
Aquilegia – delicate bell like flowers in late spring, huge varieties of colours, even the new foliage is pretty and delicate
When you are the owner of a large garden with a limited budget a great way to develop the garden is to plant, or encourage, self seeders. It can be a careful balance, there is a thin line between self seeding and being invasive, but if you are selective you can get that mass planting effect that gives real impact. They are also a good indicator of what will perform well in your garden, if it has self seeded it will probably be happy there, your life will be made much easier by growing plants that are happy with your garden’s conditions.
This year I have a huge proliferation of foxgloves which I am keen to see flower, time will only tell if they are white, which I originally planted, or purple intruders, in which case I will weed them out before they set seed as they will eventually take over.
Foxgloves – give the ones you like a little shake when the seeds come in and you should have masses the following year – the pink ones have pink tinged stalks when they start to grow so you can weed them out if necessary
Half the battle is recognising the seedlings when they are young. If you allow yourself to be a little less scrupulous in the garden like me, you can let the seedlings grow large enough to look like their adult selves. The other helpful info is to know your weeds, then you can just keep what you’re not sure about – there is a good list that Quickcrop have compiled here:
Here are some other nice self seeders that I have or would like to introduce into my garden.
Alchemilla mollis – Ladies Mantle – its limey flowers make bright colours pop- keep it on the edges of your borders
Stipa tenuissima – its feathery hair like tussocks look great in naturalistic plantings
Verbena bonariensis – looks best planted en masse – this has never seeded in my garden but I would love it did.
Amni majus – like Queen Anne’s Lace but less invasive – I am going to try and grow from seed next Autumn and hope it self seeds – very trendy
Erigeron karvinskianus – the most amazing daisy that flowers all summer long – loves to invade cracks in the walls and paving – so pretty