A tiny, cream-flowered foxglove peers out round the corner of the fence by the dustbins.



It’s a self sown plant, rooted in a paving crack, sprouted from a dust fine wind-blown seed.



Self-sown plants may be a welcome addition to a garden or little more than weeds, depending on plant, place and gardener.  Where self-sown plants are welcomed and managed with a light touch they can give both a sense of permanence and an air of spontaneity, an enviable combination that some Chelsea Flower Show gardens (above) recreate with great care.



The huge purple poppies which sprouted unexpectedly in my new garden last year were a startling contrast to the deliberately sown yellow marigolds.



I modified my plans to accommodate the tall and beautiful poppies, only to find that in this year’s dry conditions they are half the size and rather weedy.  By contrast the self-sown seedlings from a few ox-eye daisies I planted last year have relished the warm summer and grown enormous.  I transplanted dozens of seedlings to new positions, spreading them round the garden; in future my role may be to keep them in check rather than to encourage them. In the real world the perfect balance of spontaneity and permanence takes time to achieve.

(Click on any image for a closer view)