Let's hear it for the self-sowns

Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Over the past couple of years it's interesting to see what has chosen to appear in the gravel path in the back garden. Some are plants which have hopped over from the borders where I planted them and others have reappeared many years after I last had them here at VP Gardens. I think most of them are from my own activities rather than blow-ins or bird distribution from elsewhere.

They give me a neat dilemma: do I treat them like weeds and get rid, or should I do something with them? Luckily most of the plants that have appeared so far are either low growing, or not enough to prevent our use of the path for what it was designed for. They could stay put if I so desired.

The warmer weather over the past week or so has signalled it's time - at last - to clear away the over wintering stems and the rest of the debris I left in the garden to shelter overwintering insects and to feed the birds. It's also decision time on what to do with those self-sown plants.

I've decided to move most of the pictured lady-in-the-bath aka Lamprocpanos spectabilis into the revamped bed at the bottom of the garden. The white alba version is here already, but they're proving a bit weak and straggly compared to this more robust acting species. They also serve to disguise the dying foliage of the bulbs and provide a fern-like loveliness in the shadier parts. 

I was surprised to find how much root there was to these plants compared to what's appeared above the ground. Imagine an iceberg equivalent in the plant world and you'll get the picture. The roots are brittle too, so I hope I haven't damaged them too much in the process of transplantation... a couple of days on and they look good so far *crosses fingers*.

Joining them are the foxgloves which have reappeared after several years absence and will give some much needed height, plus a Brunnera 'Jack Frost' one of my garden favourites. Secretly I'd love it if it self-seeded some more as I have a vision of it lining the entire shady border.

Euphorbia myrsinitis

I've decided to keep the Euphorbia myrsinitis in the sunny gravel at the foot of the terrace bed steps. It's clear they like it better here than the large terrace bed they disappeared from several years ago. The same applies to a huge clump of Pulmonaria and some Alchemilla mollis which have both leapt out of the side garden's shady border opposite. I guess they prefer the slightly better light of the gravel path and also seem to shrug off my treading on them. The jury's still out on what to do with the Anemone blanda I planted last autumn. I suspect I'm looking at evidence of a naughty squirrel at play, who unearthed them from the border and buried them in the gravel instead. They can't have leapt out of there by themselves in a few months... could they?

I've enjoyed the gentle teaching from my garden over recent years, which has showed me some of the 'good doers' for my location and provided a subtle blending of path and border. It makes for a more relaxed style of gardening. The addition of some choice plants for free is a nice bonus.

The next step is mulch the beds with the shredded results of all that spring clearing. I like Dan Pearson's recent description of his intelligent mulching approach, which leaves the way clear for some self sowing where it's wanted, with a thick layer elsewhere to suppress the unwanted rest plus any weeds poised to spring up. I must remember to leave some space around the foxgloves for this when the time comes.

What decisions have you made with any self-sowns in your garden? Are they welcome, or more trouble for you?


  1. I keep them! Although they may be moved to a more convenient site

  2. Both, especially the Sycamore seedlings that sprout by the hundreds. But hellebores....bring them on!

    1. Ahhhhh, I conveniently forgot to mention all the ash seedlings!

  3. Most are very welcome so are either left where they appear or moved to somewhere to start a new colony. I have just moved 27 foxglove seedlings that came up on my rockery, they must have been in the mulch that I put down last year!

    1. It's a similar number here Pauline. I'm looking forward to them flowering this year along with the perennial ones I've also planted

  4. We have self sowns of a sort (from next door) in our tortoise patch - so they have to go. The darn bamboo keeps shooting up there as well - next door has one patch of the stuff (which to they crop back) but its now everywhere in our too - grrr...

  5. Some self seeders are most welcome VP but if it's name is linaria purpurea or alchemilla mollis it get's short thrift. I've found out by bitter experience over the years not to let the offenders set seed in the first place. They are indeed lovely but not in big numbers!

    1. I've learned to cut off the Alchemilla flowers - they're good in a vase. Do you do that?

  6. It was verbena bonariensis at the allotment and before that teasels which I would never ever sow again 😂

    1. It was Jack go to bed before noon up at the allotment for me. It blew into my patch and then populated everyone else's!


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