Weeding through the pots on my patio at home I am always finding seedlings, some of which are welcome and others not at all. However, I have let a couple of pots be home to seedlings and have waited to find out what has self-seeded.
Seeds are dispersed in so many ways. By wind as in the winged seeds of maples, by birds, animals and humans, by water and some by self-explosion. Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican fleabane) is one that will self-seed itself from pot to pot - and if I let it have a home it returns the favour with pretty white and pink daisies from spring through to autumn - a really good value plant for free.
In the Dry Garden at Hyde Hall a number of plants self-seed across the beds including Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy), Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist), and Verbascum olympicum. Most of these plants have migrated from their original position where a label has been placed. While I was moving the labels to their rightful owners I begun to notice the seeds a bit more.
Seeds are intriguing. Ranging in size from the miniscule dust-like seeds of orchids to the huge seeds of the coconut, and in every shape imaginable. Some are beautiful in their tiny intricate detail, and others, where they hold onto the stems, give the plant an architectural and stately look.
Plants with architectural seed heads can add an interesting dimension to a border especially during autumn and winter. The blue thistle-like flower heads of Eryngium bourgatii 'Oxford Blue' have now faded to grey-brown but still provide a fascinating shape against the pretty mauve flowers of Verbena bonariensis.
The rattling golden-bronze cup-shaped seeds of Asphodeline lutea look like they are about to burst. Among the Stipa tenuissima are masses of its hair-like seeds creating a fluffy mat. Eventually they will be blown away by the wind and self-seed elsewhere. On Clover Hill the yellow flower heads of Phlomis russeliana (see photo) turn into tiny homes and food for overwintering ladybirds and other insects.
Before cutting back at this time of year think about how seedheads can give a different dimension to a border, especially as we come into autumn and winter.
And don’t forget that leaving plants to seed might give you some free ones next year as well as providing food and homes for wildlife.