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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




18th January 2015

x Cuprocyparis leylandii
I had a lazy week, spending as much time lying in the bed as I could manage. I woke up to see the sun streaming through the windows, to hear the rain rattling down, and I managed to sleep through a gale which is a very satisfactory way of facing up to bad weather. A quick survey in the morning didn't show any major damage but perhaps I should have put more effort into waking up first. I managed to walk past this Leyland Cypress having a little rest.
To be fair, the real damage was done last winter when the ground was saturated. At the end of a week of strong winds I noticed that this Leyland was leaning downhill slightly. Its roots had loosened in the wet soil so I put it on the list of things to remove when the summer came. I didn't get there of course, but that was the intention. A little patience and I have been saved the effort of felling it, there is just the clearing up to deal with. It reveals a view to the north and helps to open up my little meadow, which was becoming a bit hemmed in by large evergreen trees.
I have been removing some of the large Leylands anyway and it can be an exciting process. Much more stimulating than finding them laying on the ground in the morning. To make up for a lazy week, I hardly slept last night. Adrenelin will do that to you. Timber (and run like the wind)!




18th January 2015

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'
At the other end of scale the Hamamelis have started to flower. It is well known that small plants establish best, and rapidly catch up with larger ones and so I always plant Hamamelis when they are tiny (and affordability also plays a part). Grafted plants seem to flower every year regardless of their size but I have to admit that a few spidery flowers on short twig don't make an impressive display. Fortunately the years have huffed and puffed by and some of the first ones I planted now make a significant show.
This plant of 'Diane' went in during the spring of 2009 and this is the first time I have enjoyed it as a shrub rather than thinking of it as a spray of blooms on a stick.
Much of the modern enthusiasm for Hamamelis can be traced back to the nurseryman Kort who had premises at Kalmthout in Belgium. In the first years of the 20th Century he had assembled a collection of species and started to raise seedlings. He raised the plant that is now called 'Ruby Glow', a hybrid between H.mollis and H.japonica var. flavopurpurascens, that was the best red available for many years. The nursery site was bought by the de Belder's and turned into a garden and arboretum. The original hybrid plants from Kort's time have continued to produce seedlings and the best of them have been named. 'Diane' has managed to improve on 'Ruby Glow', the colour is brighter and the petals seem larger.
Currently hybridists are trying to improve the colour further and restore the scent of H. mollis. I am waiting for small plants to appear and when I have cleared away the Leyland, I will have a space a couple more.




18th January 2015

Camellia x vernalis 'Yuletide'
As commonly grown, Camellia is a bland genus. It produces large flowers in early spring from sound evergreen bushes. It is astonishing that they are quite so dull. Perhaps they look too Victorian, or the pink is too synthetic. Whatever the reason the annual parade of new varieties from home and abroad is greeted with (yawn) less enthusiasm than it once was. Commercially the genus has sailed into the doldrums and retailers are on the lookout for something (anything) that can still attract attention.
'Yuletide' is a hybrid between C. japonica and C. saluenensis. Most of the seedlings that have been introduced are white but this red one is a wonderful thing. As soon as I saw it I wanted it and was prepared to splash out to get it. It has a very marketable name and at the time I think I convinced myself it was a Christmas present. Bah Humbug!
I planted it in 2006 because it was beautiful and it immediately stopped flowering. It grew into a serviceable rounded bush but never a bud. Those floriferous pots that appear around Christmas have arrived from warmer and sunnier climes than this one. I now discover that it needs to be grown in full sun or flowering will be "reduced".
Last year in the winter winds it blew over, and I got a couple of flowers. I think the bush had been shocked. This year I have three or four buds, pleasant enough but it isn't going to set the world on fire.





18th January 2015

Galanthus 'Moccas'
Snowdrops have started to dominate the garden. I have spent a few years adding to the collection here and as a result the season now starts much earlier and goes on much longer. I bought 'Moccas' in the 1980's and for a couple of decades it was the first to flower in the garden. In an early year it arrives in the last days of December. I always go looking for it on New Years Day. This year it is late when everything else seems to be early. There is a certain charm in plants that do not conform.
'Moccas' is a selection of 'Atkinsii', a good early snowdrop that occasionally produces four petals instead of the standard three. Another non-conformist. This selection was supposed to be stable and always produce petals in threes but unfortunately the plant takes no notice of this expectation and the cultivar is probably hogwash. It won't stop me growing it however. Decades of expeditions on New Years Day have left me with an affection for the plant that I don't feel for 'Atkinsii', for all its qualities.
In the rain and the wind ("we've had hailstones, you know") it has been easy to forget the moments of sunshine when the world seems to glow. I was standing under the trees with the sun streaming through the lower branches and it seemed the perfect time and place for a little lie down. Somewhere for the adrenelin to drain away.