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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




18th October 2015

Nerine 'Salmon Supreme'
Another week of beautiful autumnal weather slipping slowly away from summer. Mornings have been misty, the sun has warmed the garden by lunchtime and by the end of the afternoon it has become distinctly chilly again. Ideal weather for autumn colour. I have a couple of Liquidambar in the garden and they are slowly working themselves into a frenzy. I have made a mental note to add Euonymus alatus 'Compactus' to the mix when I see one. Reliable scarlet even in my dank climate.
The stars of the week have been Nerine. I have been pollinating in the evenings until it is too dark to see. As with everything else, pollinating Nerine is mostly about writing labels: an added sophistication this year has been putting big canes in pots I am working on, to mark them out (it saves wandering around later peering at labels to find things).
I like all the colours of Nerine sarniensis, but the natural colour is orange and although it is a strange thing to say, this astonishing colour is ordinary. I don't do anything to encourage the raising of orange seedlings. This is (at least nominally) 'Salmon Supreme', though it came as a dry bulb a very long time ago. Names on dry bulbs can be, shall we say, creative. I think it is probably just an orange seedling. I have another clone with the same name that has a more refined (in this case that means fatter) look to it. This one has something of the wild look about it and as soon as I though that I realised that I haven't any plants or the wild type or from known locations. It is a deficiency I must try to rectify.




18th October 2015

Nerine 'Natasha'
Nerine sarniensis has been selected, and to some extent hybridised, for more than a century, and many colours are available. The paler ones stand out in the collection. 'Natasha' was an undistinguished bulb for a long time, but as soon as the first flowers opened it was clear that it is very distinctive. The pale pink flowers and broad tepals with little crinkling suggest the involvement of N. pudica at some stage. The flower is huge, hinting at some hybrid vigour at the very least and possibly a duplicate set of chromosomes or two.
The moment the first flower opened people started asking what it was and then giving me the answer. It is amazing.
I hope to raise some seedlings from it, but I can't quite make up my mind how to proceed. I could use a different colour and hope to raise a rainbow range of giants, or I could cross it with something in similar colours to get more of the same. Alternatively I could self pollinate it and hope for some viable but confused seedlings (my daddy is also my mummy)! It will probably be decided on a whim on a cold night as darkness falls.
Historically, not the time I make the most prudent decisions.




18th October 2015

Nerine 'Chateau Mouton'
The last two years have seem me focus on mauve and lilac Nerine. They are odd and I have a nostalgic memory. Shortly after I moved to Cornwall a local nurseryman sold a number of mixed bare-root Nerine in flower. In my innocence I bought four; white, pink, orange and purple. I should have bought them all. The purple one was very striking. I lost the original in the bad winters at the end of the 80's and have been trying to replace it ever since. 'Dingaan' is close but perhaps nothing can quite replace a fond memory.
In the process of chasing purple, I acquired 'Chateau Mouton'. Looked quite fun, but I didn't pay it much attention. The very best things always seem to jump out at you saying "surprise", like a lover in a purple nylon wig on Halloween, or perhaps clutching a bottle of a rather good wine. I had overlooked this for so long that I was almost afraid to look too closely. Now, the more closely I look the happier it makes me. It's the simple things when it comes down to it.





18th October 2015

Hedychium wardii
The Amaryllidaceae are fun but variety is the spice of life and in this case the spice is ginger. I live in a world where gingers or one sort or another are bursting from pots around every corner. I am determined to get them planted out, just as soon as I find suitable locations. I may have to sacrifice the herbaceous border or at least find a new place for it. I made a start. Hedychium wardii went out three years ago. It is a great favourite, the heads of yellow flowers are produced reliably sometime after August and the stems remain compact and upright.
Unfortunately planting it out did not meet with immediate approval. The rabbits found it and tested their curiosity on its fat stems. It then suffered a harsh winter.
Slowly it has regained its composure and this year it has returned to flowering. The rabbits are familiar with it and have realised that the succulent stems , though not distasteful, contain very little in the way of nutrition.
The day it flowered an old friend appeared on my doorstep unexpectedly, not clutching a bottle of wine, nor in a purple wig, but "surprise".
A happy coincidence, at least for those of us that have a mind to be happy about such things.