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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




25th October 2015

Eucryphia moorei
The week ends with the clocks going back, long dark nights to come, and a drop of rain that felt cold and dismal rather than refreshing. It feels as though all the leaves fell off the sycamores overnight. I wandered through them hoping for a moments crunchiness, kicking the dry fragments into the breeze but it didn't happen. They have been soaked through and kick about like wet newspaper, cold soggy joyless clumps. Food for worms already.
The first surprise of the week was sticking to them. Tiny flecks of white clinging to the old leaves. I walked a long way through them before I realised it was something odd and not just a blemish on the dead leaves. I bent over to inspect them (no kneeling in the soggy undergrowth for me). Round white petals. Way above me, Eucryphia moorei is flowering.
It is a pleasant surprise in many ways. I bought the plant decades ago and planted it in the hopeful shelter of a Leyland hedge. Hopeful because at the time the hedge was about 45cm tall. I was gambling on the Leyalnds growing faster than the Eucryphia and I was right. The Leylands have reached 15m now and they are slowly being removed, the Eucryphia best enjoyed through its fallen petals though it is just possible to see it from the ground. A few years ago I took a camera up a ladder to get pictures but this year I have a new telephoto lense to play with. Any wobbling now is entirely my own fault.




25th October 2015

Nerine pudica
Nerine pudica flowering like London busses. It is a pretty little species with broad petals that don't have crinkled, recurved tips. The white flowers have a thin pink stripe along the midrib. The first plant I bought was described as the 'pink form' and it was very pink. Pink to the point of scarlet, it certainly wasn't N.pudica. It was just another bright N. sarniensis form. The second was N. bowdenii plain and simple. Some species are a lot more common in the writing than they are in the growing.
In the last two years I have acquired small bulbs from every source that I could find. I have seen the real plant in a couple of other collections so I know it is out there. In my jaded state I expected the small bulbs to grow into large bulbs with large orange flowers but I was wrong. They have all come together and they are all right.
In the meantime I tipped the 'pink form' out of its pot and found a few small bulbs mixed among the Nerine sarniensis. They seemed to form a cluster to themselves at one side, so I potted them up separately. They have flowered, perfect N. pudica so the supplier was careless rather than stupid which helps to restore my faith in humans. 'Pink form' is pushing it a bit but I'll let it pass.




25th October 2015

Ancylostemon convexus
Gesneriads are like faint threads of perfume drifting on the wind. They aren't easy to pin down. I grew up with African Violets which can be a little sulky, and great fat gloxinias that flower relentlessly from hairy tubers all through summer and are never seen again. I didn't meet the hardier members of the family until I was firmly trapped in the winter killed sludge of my own preconceptions. Fortunately there are thin veins of unexpected wonder strung through the family, faint threads of perfume drifting on the wind.
Ancylostemon convexus is a recent introduction from China. It arrived surrounded by the whiff of hardiness but without any firm experience to back it up. Years have passed and it is still with us. Perhaps not as cold hardy as hoped, and I have never seen it grown outside, but it survives in a cold greenhouse here and as the heat of autumn dissolves it produces beautiful heads of orange flowers. A delightful little thing.





25th October 2015

Begonia Chen Yi sp.5
It has been a week of surprises in the garden. A lot of the Hedychium in pots get stood out behind the greenhouse through the summer. I was wandering through the dying stems looking for the last flashes of colour on 'Devon Cream' and anticipating the labour to come (the pots get very heavy). Down among the stem bases there was a scattering of unexpected pink flowers.
I think this is Begonia Chen Yi sp.5. I haven't seen it since the hard winter of 2010-11. Up to that point it had wriggled about among the pots here, popping up from time to time but never moving very far. It produces tubers and either it seeds easily or it produces bulbils that I haven't noticed. One year it died down in the winter and didn't come back.
Suddenly here it is again. Smaller than Begonia grandis and with white spots on the leaves, I have moved a small potful back into the greenhouse though it is clearly a survivor. I had noted its absence without particular sadness but its return is very pleasing.