Welcome gifts: self-sown seedlings
Now that the garden is in its second ‘real’ year and I grew a lot of annuals last year, I expected some self-sown plants this year. The fact that some plants have reappeared is a good sign as far as I am concerned: it suggests that I have improved the soil to the extent that some seeds find it acceptable as a seed bed. I know it sounds as though I am clutching at straws but I have to look for positives!
Because the garden is quite large and the borders are still far from full I do resort to the hoe a lot, and that is not conducive to self-sown seedlings. But it is a good way to keep down some of the weeds and helps to keep me sane when I take the cat out and I can hoe away while she stares at the base of a hedge, waiting for a mouse to rustle past. But hoeing is not really the job to do when you are not concentrating – it is so easy to chop off something by accident!
It was no surprise to see nasturtiums popping up everywhere – they are infamous for seeding around. It is odd that the seeds are so tough and survive winter when the plants are so sensitive to the merest touch of frost. I grew two kinds last year and both seem to have sown themselves. They are useful fillers and they are easy to recognise and remove, if necessary; and they hoe off quickly. My apologies for these images – it was a dull and windy day.
I am pleased to see that it has produced a few seedlings which will replace the original plants, which get woody and lose vigour after a couple of years.
Despite its reputation as a terrible weed, I admire the red-leaved orache (atriplex) and have written about it before. I grew a batch of plants last year behind the purple crab and beside the cotinus ‘Grace’ and would have been happy if it scattered seeds everywhere. It looked as if it was not to be but finally one seedling has come up and it will be nurtured! Of course, it is very possible that the abundant birds in the garden mopped up lots of seeds – after all the blackbirds eat the strawberries – and I do not begrudge them helping themselves to the seeds. As the garden is filling up I am getting more birds visiting, in a greater variety, and I am delighted to see them.
In a similar vein, I am delighted to see some amaranth seedlings growing. These all seem very late to appear but then everything seems late this year – the poncirus which seems to be nursing them has only just produced some foliage and convinced me that it is not dead.
I was weeding the lemon and white garden the other day and was delighted to see some seedlings of Panicum ‘Explosion’, which I had grown there last year. I had collected seeds last autumn but, as is my way, I wrapped them up in an unlabelled sheet of paper and promptly lost them. Grasses seeding around can be an issue because there is still plenty of grass weeds popping up everywhere but the relatively broad and fan-like growth of these is pretty distinct and they are easy to identify.
My delight was tempered somewhat when I discovered that I also had seedlings popping up in the formal bedding area where it also grew last year. It is a bit of a surprise since I dug the area over but also presents a dilemma; do I get rid of them all? There are thousands of them. I really don’t want them there but I feel as though I am being ungrateful to kill them all. I think I may transplant some to an area where I can cope with them self-seeding and hope they will naturalise (which they won’t).
This is how we got most of our mutt hellebores. It would be nice if they performed better here. We are fortunate that our landscapes are as relaxed as they are. We get to cultivate much of what self sows. If something lands in a bad situation, we simply recycle it. I will be canning some birch seedlings later, so that they can go into a landscape where we actually want birches.
That’s my trouble at the moment: being able to recognise seedlings. I know very well the most common weeds in my garden but I m sure I got it wrong a good few times too. I tend to be cautious and so I have cared for and grown some wonderful weeds too . There is this plant in particular which I thought was an mexicana agastache but it is turning into a massive bunch of something not nice…
But that is all part of the fun of learning!