by Brendan Little
15 Aug '02
of my favourite plants are those that seed willy
nilly around the garden, these self-seeders
add a feel of natural chaos to the otherwise
ordered planting. Of course some germinate where
they are not wanted, have you ever noticed how
many seedlings germinate happily in compacted
gravel and yet fail to thrive in a carefully
prepared seedbed? Those that grow where they
are not wanted are either transplanted, donated
to friends or are simply thrown on the compost
My gardening friend Uel scatters coarse grit
around his candelabra primulas, especially his
Primula pulverulentas, and each spring the grit
is home to a veritable forest of young plants
ready for transplanting.
The perennial, ladies mantle, which I use to
soften the edges of paths and to create a cottage
garden feel, is a rampant seeder. To avoid an
invasion of young plants I simply remove the
flowers before seeding takes place. On the subject
of ladies mantle do try it with the purple leafed
shrub Physocarpus Diabolo it makes
a wonderful show, the lime green flowers contrasting
so well with the dark foliage of the Physocarpus.
My sea hollies, Eryngium maritimum and the beautiful
Eryngium bourgatii are regular if not prolific
seeders, definitely no deadheading required
here. Add to this list the stinking hellebore
Helleborus foetidus, the verbascums and foxgloves.
Any foxglove seedlings, which have a purple
midrib to the leaves, are removed and composted,
these seedlings will only produce purple flowers.
Plants with clear green midribs remain untouched;
this selection process ensures that we only
have white flowered foxgloves at flowering time.
very gentle grass Stipa tenuissima (= thinnest)
one of the most beautiful and graceful ornamental
grasses I know, and I am quite happy for it
to seed through the garden, it can be a short
lived perennial so it is good to have some young
plants to fill the gaps which appear in the
forget when you are weeding to be on lookout
for seedlings of your favourite annuals, I am
always on guard for young plants of Nemophila,
the one I like is Penny Black. Other
welcome self-seeders include the Californian
poppies and the beautiful biennial Echium fastuosum.
So dont despise plants that propagate
themselves indeed I take it as a compliment,
they are so happy in my garden that they simply
want to start a family.