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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




7th June 2015

Clematis 'Scartho Gem'
A bright sunny week with occasional low cloud. I drove down to Penzance along the ridge between the coasts and it was fascinating to see the cloud forming in a line along the high ground. Bright sun on the north coast and over the sea, bright sun on the south coast and between them a thin ribbon of cloud marking the line of the hills. I was happy to see it. It dropped a surprising amount of rain in the night which has kept the garden fresh.
When I first laid out the herbaceous border it seemed like a very large space with not many plants so I amused myself by filling the gaps with anything that came to hand (and there is no pleasure quite like planting a garden willy-nilly). In the process I put in a number of Clematis on short tripods. I had a naive idea that they would sprawl over the other plants and provide some interesting variation in colour and form. Naivety is the key point. Weeding has become an issue and I wish I had fewer plants and more space to get between things without getting tangled in sprawling Clematis stems. Eventually I will strip it all out, replant the Hemerocallis (which were the real reason for the border) and give myself some room. In the meantime 'Scartho Gem' is providing some companionship for the mass of red campion that has invaded.




7th June 2015

Rebutia espinosae
I have a small and uninspiring collection of cacti in the greenhouse. For the most part they have arrived by accident, though I do have a fondness for Rebutia. They flower freely and survive a moderate frost so I have taken to tucking them in at the base of some of the Agave where they make little splashes of colour in the spring. Rebutia espinosae arrived in 2007 during a small flurry of enthusiasm and has flowered every year since, including the year when a drip in the greenhouse roof filled its tray with water and it spent the winter as a bog plant.
This year seems to be developing into another prickly one. Already there are half a dozen new species waiting to be planted out and it is not a job I relish. Even with cactus-resistant gloves they seem to manage to stick an odd spine or two into unprotected flesh which will cause no discomfort for hours and then suddenly require immediate and rapid removal.
The latest spell of enthusiasm for cacti has revealed that in the years since I planted it R. espinosae has changed its name to R. narvaecensis. The plant is now being guarded by a large and spiny Agave but when I am feeling brave I will extract the label and change it.




7th June 2015

Convolvulus lineatus
Down in the herbaceous border I get occasional problems with bindweed which sprawls around in the way I wanted the Clematis to, providing an interesting and unwelcome variation in colour and form. It makes me a little wary of the genus Convolvulus, and there are plenty to be wary of, but there are also a number of beautiful species. Convolvulus lineatus makes small mats of silvery foliage and produces pale pink flowers through the summer. I have it in the Agave house where it performs the same function as the Rebutia, filling the bare and unused space around the base of the Agave rosettes. I have seen it growing outside in the eastern counties looking magnificent on a rock garden. When I tried it outside here it looked miserable and bedraggled, like a cat that had fallen into a pond.
The species has a widespread distribution. I have seen it in southern France but it also occurs in eastern Europe, north Africa and that awkward piece with all the "...istan's", through to south west Asia and China. Much as I love it, I get the feeling it can be something of a weed in the right climate.





7th June 2015

Ixia paniculata 'Eos'
Many years ago I grew a form of Watsonia marginata called 'Star Spike' with white flowers. Eventually I lost it, not with a bang but with a question. Do I still have that? I went to look but couldn't find it anywhere. One of those things that quietly disappears. I wanted to replace it but it had vanished from nurseries. Some things just disappear, never to be seen again. I was reminded of it by the latest list of threatened plants from Plant Heritage. There in red letters was my poor old Watsonia. Critical in cultivation. Not known growing in the UK.
I wasn't surprised. Some things are lovely but you get the feeling they aren't going to persist. Not quite hardy enough to become popular, too vigorous for a pot, they sit awkwardly on the fringes waiting for catastrophe.
That was how I felt when I saw Ixia paniculata 'Eos' in 2008. One of those things that is going to disappear. It probably isn't important, the species has creamy flowers of the same size variably blushed with reddish hues, so this is a nice selection but not particularly unusual. Still, I had to have it. It didn't like life in a small pot, but transfer to a larger tub has seen a great increase and the first flowers for a couple of years. It is particularly pleasing to see that it is still available and being grown on a larger scale for the dry bulb trade. Every now and then something unusual and unexpected prospers.