- Blog article with thanks to Richard Still
Many of the plants in the Hall Garden are self sown annuals, or biennials, and it may be of interest to readers to list the subjects that are most successful in self propagation, and the techniques I adopt to manage them :
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).
These heralds of spring have always been a feature of the Hall Garden and they multiply vigorously by seed and offshoots. Originally concentrated beside the path to the office I have distributed them in clumps around the garden where they quickly achieve a critical mass which can in turn be separated. I have used some of the offshoots from the Hall to develop a drift of snowdrops in Woodbury Park Cemetery.
Primroses (Primula veris). Once established these native flowers also self propagate vigorously. As with snowdrops I believe it is hardly possible to have too many of these beautiful native flowers.
Forget me not (Myosotis). These delightful little plants seed themselves very profusely and contribute a sea of blue to the area behind the Hall in Spring. I pull them out after flowering but they never fail to reappear.
White foxgloves frequently feature as a graceful t and stylish element in the designer gardens at Chelsea. My technique in obtaining a preponderance of white flowers each year is to cull all the non white specimens before they seed. They always choose suitable areas for themselves and seem to resent being moved. I much prefer the elegant wild variety flowering on one side of the arching stem to the more upright hybrids.
Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis). This again is a favourite with garden designers with delicious lime green flowers in late spring. In fact it seeds itself rather too profusely; I control it by removing all flower heads before they seed. Even so seedlings appear all over the place and have to be culled. Be warned if you introduce this charming plant into your garden.
Mullein (Verbascum bombicyferum).
This is a very statuesque native plant that has been a very prominent feature behind the hall this year. The mass of these very large specimens in the area cleared beside the bins seem almost threatening (see photograph). The young plants produce a handsome rosette of grey felted leaves.
Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii). This little plant lives up to its name and produces a pale yellow and white ground cover in late spring. It reseeds itself every year and, although it often appears in unexpected areas of the garden, it is always welcome.
Love in a mist (Nigella). The attractive bulbous flower heads that appear on this old cottage flower can be relied on to produce a wealth of offspring. Seed mixes are available that provide delightful mixed shades of blue.
The flowers of this herbaceous plant are a rather outrageous purple colour, of which it is possible to have too much .
Nasturtium (Nasturtium!). I am not aware of any vernacular name for this rather dramatically coloured, sprawling plant that gives a very welcome burst of colour in mid to late summer, and can be relied on to reappear each year.
Californian poppy (Eschscholzia – spelling?). This plant reproduces itself freely to provide splashes of yellow and orange shades throughout the summer.
Lychnis chalcedonica. This herbaceous plant produces a mass of flowers in various shades of bright red to purple offset by grey leaves. It propagates freely and often appears unexpectedly. I have been given three plants this year and hope to establish this lovely herbaceous flower as a feature of the Hall garden.
Many other plants could be added to the above list and many less welcome weed seedlings s proliferate in the garden even more abundantly (another article, perhaps). The trick is to recognise the desirable plants in their infancy and to weed out the intruders. Care is required, but the result is very rewarding with a wealth of beautiful recurring flowers, costing nothing and adding to the naturalistic effect.
Photographs by Robert Avery and Richard Still
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