Forget-me-nots and aquilegia, with nasturtium leaves in the foreground.
Erigeron karvinskianus and campanula on the front steps.
Calendula ‘Indian Prince’ with self-sown sweet peas.
Aquilegias and borage.
Aquilegia forest
Cerinthe, centranthus and more aquilegia.
Fluffy nigella lining the path.

A sunny May day is when the garden shifts into full-on growing mode, especially after a few damp days. You can feel it, there is exuberance in the air. Plants that were appearing in nooks and crannies now show themselves confidently and everything looks lush.

I can now distinguish the seedlings of self-sown plants that I want to keep – forget-me-nots, aquilegia, cerinthe, nigella, calendula, nasturtiums, ammi, cosmos, erigeron – from weeds that I don’t but it always takes me by surprise just how many pop up. There seem to be more aquilegias this year, most of them a deep purple with a few pink/lilac ones, and the forget-me-nots are spreading beautifully. I don’t mind how many of these little blue beauties grow, they can seed themselves all over the garden if they like. All of the ones that have grown this year are from a few plants my mother-in-law brought with her last year.

The briza is from a few small plants that fellow blogger Cathy kindly sent me last year – they have definitely settled in and made themselves at home (thank you, Cathy!). The borage and cerinthe are from plants I grew from seed last year. I read somewhere that once you have these in the garden you’ll have them for ever but I’m quite happy about that. The great thing about self-seeders is that you can hoik them out if they appear in the wrong place or carefully transplant them to the right place. The abundance of these plants fills me with happiness. Really, there is little more pleasing than finding a whole load of seedlings that will grow to produce some of my favourite flowers with absolutely no effort on my part!

Meanwhile, there are pots and pots, and trays and trays of young plants waiting in the wings for the weather to warm up a bit. Then it’ll be all systems go to get them in the ground, settling in and growing away in time for the great Garden Safari.


28 thoughts on “Self-seeders

  1. Fantastic. I particularly love the erigeron. I’m holding my nerve with the seedlings here after a sweet pea disaster and very poor runner bean germination. Nearly put out some dahlias this evening, but I’ll give it a couple more days just to see which way things are going. They’re for a bee survey, so I daren’t mess it up and lose them. CJ xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve learnt to hold out until at least mid-May but there is a huge backing-up of plants waiting..! Good luck with your dahlias.


  2. Self seeders, the more the merrier! It’s true that you’ll never be without borage or cerinthe but that’s also true of aquilegias. I have purple ones that pop up everywhere from a plant my sister gave me several years ago, although not quite so easy to remove unwanted ones once they take root. I caught a neighbour trying to steal my forget me nots the other day, not realising that they’re needed for self seeding – I was a bit cross, I can tell you! Your garden is looking fabulous, Sam – will you be adding more?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aquilegias can be thugs, can’t they? It’s best to get them when they’re tiny if you want to move them. I’m not surprised you were cross at forget-me-not theft! Yes, there’s more to come. Always 🙂


    1. I take a fairly relaxed approach to self-seeders because I love the abundance. David isn’t as keen on those that pop up in the paths, though.


  3. Your garden looks so pretty and colourful. It’s always such a lovely surprise when self seeders turn out to be flowers and not weeds. I sowed borage when we first came here twenty six years ago and I still get borage popping up in unexpected places.
    Lucky you to have some damp days – we haven’t had dampness for weeks.

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  4. I think it’s the stingy side of me that makes me love self-seeders so much – free plants! But, they are also great plants. I love that you have masses of the same plants; your Nigella looks so good running down the path. I am taking notes as all of this is exactly what I dream of. Nature, just barely contained. Beautiful, Sam. You’ve done a beautiful job.

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  5. Self seeders make a valuable contribution to the garden. Fergus Garrett, head gardener at Great Dixter, said in a talk I attended that one of the skills of a good gardener was the ability to identify self seeders from weeds at a young stage of growth. You have mastered the art.

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  6. I’ve just found a borage seedling in one of the beds. It’s miles from where the plants grew last year (well, not literally, but you know what I mean). They are so clever at finding places to grow. Your garden is looking so beautiful, Sam. Ox eye daisies are the self seeding queens here. Xx

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    1. Borage is incredible, isn’t it – there’s one growing in the greenhouse here and I certainly didn’t plant it. Seed must’ve found its way in some how. Waiting for the Ox-eye daisies to bloom here and I hope they’ll sow themselves around too.


  7. Those are wonderful self seeders your garden is obviously a good location to take root. I haven’t had any seeding from my borage or ammi. The deep purple aquilegias are such a wonderful colour! Sarah x


  8. I love self-sufficient plants! I tend to find Nigella popping up in the oddest spots and just let it grow. I must get some forget-me-not going too. Your flowers look sublimely happy Sam.


  9. I’m fond of some of the same self-seeders, especially Aquilegias. I like borage but I grub out all but a couple of plants each spring. Brunnera, which is known as False Forget-Me-Not, is also a great self-sower. I would be happy if the Asters and Goldenrods weren’t quite so generous in their self-sowing.


  10. So glad the briza settled down and made itself at home 😊 and joined your other obliging self seeders. I find that some of the things I want to self seed (like Californian poppy and bupleurium) only seem to do so in the tiniest of cracks in the path and rarely in the beds where I want them – and cerinthe has not yet obliged me anywhere.


  11. I had to laugh as we have very similar stone steps full of self-seeders! 😉 I love your Campanulas… maybe I should try those too. And the red Centranthus also spreads but I took out a lot last year to give it a fresh start. And what a lot of Aquilegias you’ve got! 🙂 I introduced Briza last year after seeing it on Cathy’s blog too, but haven’t noticed any new clumps yet.


  12. Funny how one person’s self-seeder is another’s weed. I fear I’ve pulled up a few of these in a weeding frenzy in the past. But they add so much charm and depth to a garden and stop it looking too “tidy”. I do have some aquilegia growing in pavement cracks though, and it can stay there.


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