Here’s an idea! Plant your garden in with plants that self sow. This will save you money on seeds, on the time spent replanting and make the entire process sustainable over the long term. I am sure you are asking yourself, what plants are these and are they worth planting? Well, I think you’d be surprised to find that many of them are desirable plants, both perennial and annual, and lots of them are flowers. Also among the numbers are herbs and wildflowers, both not only contributory to the beauty and aroma of your garden space but also an addition to your culinary selections. Some of them are used in remedies I have written about on this blog.
The easy propagation of these plants are what make them so magical. Plant it and nurture once only and a new crop of seedlings appear year after year, every single spring, without much more help from you. A lazy gardeners dream! Most of them need some nurturing after first planting, including watering, mulching, weeding and watching for bugs. But once they are in place their part of the garden morphs in a way, becoming a perfect bed for future generations. Oh, joy!
The one drawback is that many of these may self sow too thickly and end up taking over your yard. In this regard, they require thinning. In many cases, these plants are closely related to weeds and can be invasive. This requires a yearly thinning out, both for the health of the garden and for the order of things.
Foxglove, for instance, is a beautiful self sower but is so invasive that you may have to weed it out completely over time or leave it as the sole plant in what will become a massive garden. Another rapid self sower is nicotiana which will take over in a year or two. Although, I don’t suggest pulling it up altogether because it just smells so darn nice. It make your garden a heavenly place at night.
Other prolific plants that can end up everywhere on your property are chamomile and johnny jump ups. I had chamomiles that grew rapidly and enormously and required constant thinning. They were spreading by runners, sending plants to areas of my garden I wanted to preserve for seating and decking. Another wild eyed beauty was my Lavender plants. They spread like wildfire, thick and blue and beautiful. The smell they emitted in my garden was sheer heaven. I used to just walk out there every evening just to sit and enjoy it.
Whether self sowing plants become a problem in your garden depends on what you are trying to create. It will be about your own style of gardening and how you wish to present your plantings. You will need to weed every so often to keep it all from looking wild and thinning is a must if you don’t wish to end up wading through a sea of flowers just to get to your bbq.
With the right site and the right gardening attitude, all self sowers can be wonderful additions to the garden. They are sustainable, inexpensive and time saving. If you do decide to plant and nurture the self sowers, be aware that offspring from the original plants will often differ in color or shape. This is especially true of hybrids. However, the wild effect of a garden full of these beauties is irresistible and enjoyable. You will have more time to smell the flowers when you no longer have to rebuild the garden year after year.
A reference list of self sowing plants:
Bear’s Foot Hellebore
Bells of Ireland
Brown Eyed Susan
Columbine Meadow Rue
Honesty (Silver Dollar)