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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




7th September 2014

Roscoea purpurea Tall Form
A hot June and July turned into a cold August, but it was August and impossible to think of anything except summer. The first Cyclamen blushing in the shade may have hinted of things to come but it was the month of sunglasses and unsatisfactory beach barbecues. September has arrived, temperatures have risen again but there is no intensity in the sun and autumn shines from the tired undergrowth.
People with hanging baskets are saying "Oh well."
The Roscoea have had a good year. The whole collection was moved a couple of years ago and spent some time sulking and being indecisive. This year they have established and started to produce decent flowering stems. The start of the season was dominated by hot weather which suited them well, though the flowers were fleeting. The end of the season is filled with R.purpurea forms that were affected by the dry weather in summer. A cool and rainy August rescued them from catastrophe and they look set to continue flowering for some time yet. These are a couple of seedlings from the tall form of R.purpurea, one with a green pseudostem and one with red. The large lilac flowers stand above the thigh high clusters of leaves. It was the proliferation of pots of seedlings that forced me to plant them all out in the first place and I should probably split these up and give them a chance to make great fat stems. I have a plan for a Roscoea garden that will finally give me space to sort them all out, but these things happen rather slowly.




7th September 2014

Mahonia 'Cabaret'
I remember the excitement of red Mahonia flowers when plants first started to appear in nurseries. They were part of a resurgence of interest in the genus that is continuing. Among gardeners there is a feeling that we owe the genus some consideration for undervaluing it during the japonica decades.
'Cabaret' is a dwarf shrub along the lines of M. aquifolium though the foliage is sparser. I have it growing under a large Acer where the dry conditions certainly reduce its vigour, but it has established well and flowers enthusiastically.
It was discovered growing in a trial bed of Mahonia in Boskoop and is thought to be either an early flowering form of M.nitens or a hybrid between that species and M.gracilipes. The red buds open to yellow flowers but the inflorescences retain a rich orange appearance that is a visual improvement on the rather dull red flowers of M. gracilipes. I'm not sure I have ever seen a plant of M. nitens to compare this with. Gardens have been flooded with 'Cabaret' (no bad thing) but it isn't always labelled as such.




7th September 2014

Aconitum hemsleyanum
Aconites have engaged a portion of my attention for a couple of years. They do well in the garden, but they seem to prefer a bit of moisture in the soil. I bought a young plant of A. hemsleyanum in the spring because I had seen it prospering in the long border at Wisley. Climbing plants present their own problems, but it was good enough to make the effort. I have previously tried to grow the selection 'Red Wine' without success so this is something of a trial run, to work out where the fault lay.
It didn't appreciate the dry weather as the young shoots were starting to climb and it has only reached two feet rather than the six I had envisioned but rain in August improved the situation and it is flowering (not abundantly, but neither is it dead). I think it needs a permanent position in the herbaceous border where the endless juggling of space and convenience will continue this winter. I would like to think it was a delicate task, balancing colour and form. I have great admiration for gardeners who get to that point. People who have use for a border fork. I tend to run at it with a long handled shovel shouting 'bastard bastard bastad' among the autumn anemones.
My herbaceous border is more like drowing in mayonnaise. Tasty suffocation.



7th September 2014

Zephyranthes candida
The bulb house is a lot more controlled (gutting it and repotting everything during the winter has helped). Zephyranthes candida has produced a mass of gigantic flowers and restored my faith in the genus. They had all suffered in small pots for too long and through this year it has become clear that many of the packets of seed I raised were wrongly named and many of my named clones have Habranthus tubispathus seeded into them. There was a moment (actually there were many) when I was short of space and considering tipping them all on the compost heap and storming off in a huff.
It didn't happen and I have had enough interesting flowers to make me overlook the weeds. Those pots that can be saved will be saved, and those that have degenerated into H. tubispathus will be thrown out. Even the pretty pale pink form. It is lovely, but seeds far to freely to be allowed to run riot. There are enough problem species among the bulbs without encouraging another.
Zephyranthes candida would grow outside perfectly happily in a well drained sunny bed. I'm not even sure it cares about the well drained part but it does insist on some sun if it is going to flower. I have sunlight, but it tends to slide sideways in autumn under the canopy of trees. Fine for Cyclamen but probably best to leave Z. candida in the greenhouse.