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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




15th November 2015

Sinningia conspicua
The rain is falling, the garden has slipped into gentle focus and I need to wear my glasses or I walk into things. Days are shorter, nights are darker and in an unguarded moment I uttered the "w" word in the week. It isn't winter, I was just at a low ebb and it slipped out. The air is close, the ground is wet but it's just too cold to wear shorts. All in all the sort of dank weather that was getting me down until I considered the alternatives. I will settle for dank.
It has been a fortunate week as well. The weather has mostly held off when I needed to be outside and eventually the sun shone.
The last of the autumn colour has gone flying in the wind, there are some Hydrangea and Fuchsia hanging on but most of the colour in the garden is coming from the misfits. Things that don't really belong to the tidy pattern of the seasons.
Sinningia conspicua is taking advantage of the high temperatures and flowering in the greenhouse. Eventually the chill nights will get to it and the whole thing will collapse in a pile of mush and botrytis. The tubers seem to be fairly cold tolerant if they are dry, which isn't going to happen outside.
For a while it was promoted as a plant for the open garden but it has recently slipped back into the welcoming arms of the gesneriad specialists who are using is as the parent to an increasingly obscure flange of pale hybrids. Pale and not 'conspicua's.




15th November 2015

Dermatobotrys saundersii
The trail of obscurity leads us away from the mountains of Brazil and over the sea to the coastal forests of South Africa. Mention the flora of South Africa and the mind fills with the thought of bulbs and Protea but the wonder of the region extends well beyond their incomprehensible diversity.
Dermatobotrys saundersii is a small sbrub with a reputation for growing epiphytically in habitat which will no doubt lead to flurry of growers wiring it to bare branches in their enthusiasm to replicate their idea of its natural habitat. In reality it prospers in an open compost and will stoically endure a light frost with a demeanour that could not be taken for delight.
The flowers are looking a shade paler than they should, as though they know there are no suitable pollinators flying in this weather. I didn't bother to pollinate the Nerine this week either, and I have a cosy raincoat to hide under.
The flowers are a charming adornment to the season. In most years they survive indoors until the New Year looking paler and paler but eventually they fall and the plant settles into dormancy with a sigh of relief. In some collections the flowers are followed by fat green fruits, but not here. I don't think I keep it warm enough or buzz about with enough enthusiasm.




15th November 2015

Camellia sasanqua 'Rainbow'
They say ever cloud has a silver lining but it isn't true. I have had the contents of quite a few land on me this week and I don't seem to be any richer. I have been walking around the wet garden looking for any hopeful signs of the spring to come. The Camellia buds have fattened in the last few weeks. In September I went to look at 'Show Girl' and the shoots were leafy and innocent. Now they have sex hanging from every axil. Great fat buds waiting to burst. Usually as the season tumbles into sludge I can find a flower or two that has opened in reckless haste but there is nothing.
In the greenhouse 'Rainbow' has opened, the irregular white flowers tipped with pink. Camellia sasanqua is to be expected in the autumn, and if the sun came out it would be wonderful but the sky was dark with clouds when I took this picture, rain was rattling on the roof and the camera was having trouble focussing in the low light. It is mournful weather. I bought a new pair of wellingtons and stood in a stream which seemed to capture the spirit of the week.





15th November 2015

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'
Under the dark skies with the rain falling I might have overlooked the arrival of spring. Up in the meadow 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' has come to rescue me from the drizzle of despair. The sack of bulbs I planted were one of the best purchases I have ever made. They fill the last weeks of the year with the promise of things to come.
They are a shock. I expect them at the beginning of December but they have emerged early. A fortnight ago I mowed the meadow and was worrying that I might have nipped off the tips of the buds, but the first flowers are undamaged so I have got away with it. I'm not so sure about the Hellebore border, which needs mowing but I think I might have left it too late. Perhaps tomorrow will be dry and I can have a closer look.
We're owed the rain of course. We had a long dry spell to welcome the autumn and the temperatures are still high. It couldn't last forever and I would rather have the wet weather than the cold. Easy for me to say, I live at the top of the hill. Down in the valley winter drainage has already become a problem. Plenty of wellingtons down there but not many happy daffodils.