Here are some lovely cottage garden self-seeded plants thriving in ridiculous conditions.
I know we aim to give our plants the best start with good soil, water and space but look here how perennials have tucked themselves into tiny slivers of exhausted soil between brick pavers. They’ve relied on rain for water, have had no plant food and have been trodden on. And yet they are thriving.
Firstly an echium, a tall blue biennial usually sold in 9cm pots. Here it is self-seeded in a crack in the brickwork. I certainly won’t remove it but when it’s 3 ft high next summer I’ll have to walk round it.
Next, a hardy geranium of course. You can rely on them to put themselves about, here squeezed in with a dandelion, like two people playing sardines. Since reading Jack Wallington’s “Wild about Weeds” I don’t pull up dandelions and actually welcome their yellow flowers in spring. I’ll leave this one too.
Another hardy geranium growing in a crack. Makes me wonder why we take so much care with how and where we plant them. A crack in paving seems to work.
Below is a more choice geranium, probably a blue one like Orion or Brookside, surviving in a crack and being trodden on every time I walk by. It even flowered.
Here’s a self-seeded ajuga – they’re appearing all over the place, with mind-your-own-business creeping along the cracks. What a bonus.
Below a valerian has self-seeded into a stony dry spot at the front door. I buy these at £4.99 a pop because I want they are the red ones rather than the drab muddy pink ones that grow wild. We shall see what colour this turns out to be. Next to it is a seeded ajuga again, in such an inhospitable place. Fantastic.
And lastly just one of the many alchemilla mollis seeded into the paving cracks again, all down the front path. There must be a dozen at least and I treasure them but I couldn’t get them out if I wanted to, their roots are so embedded.
So when I fell in love with this kind of garden at East Lambrook Manor I just hoped that I’d end up with this patchwork of self-seeded simple common plants. I don’t yearn for exotics or riots of summer colour – I just want a living space where plants move around on their own and make the space their home. Leave them alone and they will come.