A great garden is one which can not only endure over time but which also improves and gains in biodiversity. Making the right initial choices when it comes to planting can go a long way towards ensuring that the garden evolves as you wish. And choosing the right plants can make your life easier too. Self seeders and perennials which spread easily can be good choices – especially for a relatively low maintenance space.
Over the six plus years since I began to establish my little forest garden, I have begun to find out which plants self seed and spread most easily. So today I thought I would share some of my favourites for filling the space, and coming back reliably and prolifically each year.
One plant which I did not sow myself, but which spreads around my forest garden nonetheless is foxgloves. Of course, Digitalis is not an edible. But these flowering plants are extremely beneficial within the forest garden ecosystem. I encourage them to bring in pollinators, and to play other roles within the system. These biennials self-seed extremely well where I live.
Another flowering plant which reliably self-seeds every year within the forest garden is borage. I sowed borage in a sunny area in the forest garden years ago, and it reliably self seeds and comes back each year. Yarrow has also self seeded, though not quite as successfully.
One plant which I have been pleasantly surprised by is red-veined sorrel – one of the most prolifically self-seeding salad crops/ herbs in the space. It is now popping up everywhere, creating great ground cover well beyond the area beneath the red currants where it was originally planted.
Finally, parsley. This common biennial or short-lived perennial herb is a well known self-seeder. And I have some which has survived a lot of disruption and still forms a healthy clump after a number of years.
Of course, there are plenty of other self-seeders to consider. But it is important to remember that what will self-seed reliably will vary considerably depending on where you live. So a little experimentation is key to work out what works best in your own particular garden.