Self sowing plants – do you welcome them or not? I have some faves that I let go wild. Actually, probably more go wild than are controlled in my garden , if the truth is going to be told here. Plants that throw themselves around willy-nilly often end up in a spot that they look great in. Okay – not always, but those that are an eyesore can easily be removed. Well, maybe not all so easily either – some are a damn nuisance and a real challenge to remove. Moving on…..
One of the top on my list to let go wild is Verbena Bonariensis. It’s wispy stems can come up anywhere in the midst of other plants and rise above everything that surrounds them. Very rarely does it clash and need to be removed. It blooms all summer, is a butterfly and bee magnet, and in the fall the gold finches spend their days picking the seeds out of the flower heads. What’s not to love about this plant? My niece, who is a gardener and a garden designer generally abhors it. On this note we differ. It plants itself where it doesn’t belong which I love and she doesn’t.
verbena b. and allium grow
Verbena coming up in Amsonia – another re-seeder
The Verbena and the Allium will grow along the gravel that’s in my driveway. The Allium is a re-seeder that’s not quite as easy to control as the Verbena but you take the good with the bad. If it comes up where you don’t want it a shovel is necessary to get rid of it – you can’t just pluck it out. It has those nasty deep onion roots. Pretty when it blooms and when it goes to seed I am willing to put up with it’s nasty habits. If I didn’t want it to spread all over my yard I could cut it back once the flowers were finished but then I would miss this show.
seed heads of allium
Salvia azurea is another seed dropper that I would never get rid of . It blooms late in the summer alongside the Allium and Crape Myrtle and the bees go wild for it. The sky blue color always causes people to stop and ask what’s blooming. It’s tall and showy and easily moved. And did I mention that it’s sky blue?
Rose campion and Echinacea and Agastache oh my. They are all left to do as they please as well. Sometimes the Rose Campion can come up in a spot that is truly not wonderful – the color is a loud magenta and does not match everything it plants itself near. The young plants are easily spotted and moved though. Since it’s a biennial there is time to notice it when it’s young and move it long before it sends those garish flowers up. The cone flowers and Agastache don’t really clash with anything and are both very attractive to all my flying friends. Bees, birds, and butterflies love both of these plants.
white carpet roses and rose campion mingle nicely
agastache coming up in between rocks in a wall
goldfinch enjoying seeds of spent cone flower
finch picking the seeds out of agastache
Forget Me Nots are easily established and will go wild if you let them. They mix in a bed with Celandine poppy which was a really pricey pot when I bought it years ago at Rare Find Nursery. It has paid for itself many times over. I have gifted many of them away since they established themselves in my beds. They come up in all kinds of inhospitable spots where nothing else will grow. The poppy has even filled in that dead space between the air-conditioning unit and the house, where there is barely any soil. They also come up right against the foundation where nothing lives. If the poppy gets out of control I just shear it back so that whatever is being shaded out can get some light. Early in the season when I am most ambitious I move forget-me-nots when there are too many – later when they have gone to seed and hundreds more start coming up I get a little disgusted and throw some in the compost heap.
forget me nots popping up in lysimachia
Primula Japonica . Sigh. If you have ever seen someones garden where this primrose is established you will want some yourself. I have been trying to establish some for years and finally I seem to have hit the right spot. The area isn’t huge but it will satisfy the craving. Willowwood Arboretum has a carpet of them that is incredible. I had a pretty lengthy season of bloom here and saw quite a number of seedlings coming up this fall. I am hoping to have a returning colony this spring!
Primula japonica mixed varieties
Helleborus Foetidus seeds itself allover the limestone rock hills that surround my mother’s garden. So annoying! It’s like a damn weed in her garden and try as I might, I have yet to have it reseed for me. Maybe this will be the year. They all bloomed beautifully and then croaked. I made sure to spread the seeds around so they didn’t just drop where they fell . We’ll see…
Columbine is welcome anywhere as well. It comes up early and blooms long before many plants make an appearance. Since it doesn’t choke out other plants I let it go where it wants. Every year is a surprise, since you never really know which plant dropped seeds where and what color the seedlings will be.
I could list many more but I am going to end with a few annuals that come up every year that are always a happy surprise. Nicotiana – all kinds, Salvia , Portulaca, Four O’Clocks ( even the Lime colored ones!) and sunflowers that the birds drop everywhere and I usually can’t bear to rip out. Two years ago I put a pot of portulaca on the teak table you see below. The following summer portulaca came up between the rocks all around the table. This year there were more. They come up in bare spots where the creepers we planted have not filled in. How do they know?
My portulaca pot that started the explosion on my patio.
salvia and nicotiana that volunteered from previous years plantings
And these fabulous Four O’Clock’s that have been returning for three or four years now.
all volunteers around the birdbath
My garden is a Garden Designer’s nightmare. I don’t follow the rules – if it doesn’t work out – then I move it. It’s my garden so I can do what I want. Bring on the Self Sowers !