Saving the seeds of success

There are some lovely late summer flowering combinations to enjoy this month. In full sun, tall asters like 'Monch' shine brightly among ornamental grasses like the stately spires of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'. The beautiful white Japanese anemone 'Honorine Jobert' partnered with Hydrangea quercifolia glows in cool shade and the hot oranges and reds of Crocosmia are looking wonderful, but some earlier bloomers are now definitely past their prime.

Having flowered their hearts' out through spring and early summer, for some plants the job is done for another year and the seed of the next generation has been set, so now is the perfect time to take advantage of their generosity and if they have been successful and already proved their worth in the garden then we know that they will thrive and the more the merrier.

In my garden opium poppies have produced enough seed to populate the whole of Monmouthshire with their varied progeny, some in quite astonishing colours but all equally beautiful. The seed heads make statuesque additions to the borders right through late summer, autumn and into winter, so I leave most of them alone to do their own thing and scatter the ripe seed themselves as they sway in the wind, but I like to shake the seeds from a few heads into paper bags 'just in case' which I keep over winter to sow myself in spring in places where they haven't yet colonized.

Forget me not and Aquilegia have much the same prolific nature, they are stalwarts of my garden and have been reliable early flowerers for generations of gardeners before me.
Wild carrot, a biennial mainstay of newly sown meadows and Verbena bonariensis are relative newcomers to our gardens, but when happy will seed themselves around freely. Like the lovely soft feathery leaved herb fennel with which Verbena looks wonderful, they will flower in the first year so can be treated like annuals and sown in autumn or spring just where you want them to flower.

Gardening can often be a very expensive occupation requiring more than a little hard work so when I'm offered lots of easy plants for very little effort and completely free then I'm all for it and if my plants are happy enough in my garden to want their next generation to live here too then that's great.

Happy plants, happy garden, happy gardener!