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JEARRARD'S HERBAL




27th December 2015

Agapetes 'Ludgvan Cross' .
This is the week for cleaning up the Sarracenia in the greenhouse. Splashing around in the water benches with the rain drumming on the roof it would be easy to reflect on the past year but instead I am thinking about numbers. The way that the terrible floods in the north have been reduced to millimeters of rainfall in 24 hours, worst flooding for 47 years and all the rest of it. Numbers change things. How many Sarracenia do I grow? I have no idea, I don't want to know. When I am cleaning them up it is too many, when I see the good ones in the seedling beds in summer it is not enough, the number is just a distraction.
As with any other year, some things have changed and some have stayed the same. Both outcomes seem to be equally satisfactory. Agapetes 'Ludgvan Cross' continues to be charming. I keep promising myself it will go outside and I keep not planting it. Every time I get close someone tells me how tender it is and I lose my nerve. I am convinced that it would thrive in the damp ground under the Camellia but would hate to lose it. Last summer I bought myself a second so the time has come to take the chance. Perhaps when the spring looks a bit more like the promise of summer than the threat of winter.




27th December 2015

Aspidistra attenuata .
I am also looking at the Aspidistra with an eye to getting a few more planted out. How many Aspidistra are there - well, too many for the greenhouse space available. The time has come to plant them, space them out and do something effective against the scale insects that are gaining a foothold.
Aspidistra attenuata BSWJ 377 has been in the same pot for far too long. A piece will stay in the greenhouse just in case the Cornish climate is too harsh for this Taiwanese endemic, but the main part will have to go out. I think it will be fine, it has withstood some severe winters in the greenhouse.
One of the jobs-in-waiting is the preparation of an Aspidistra garden. I have a space under the trees where the frost rolls away that would be perfect. It is currently filled with forgotten Fuchsia and it is about time they were rescued and remembered. I planted a few Aspidistra there five years ago as a trial and they have grown very well. It is surprising how much damage snails do to the leaves, but they have still prospered.
The low winter sun penetrates from the south and the winter rain drains down from the north, so the site is both bright and moist. If you only grow two feet tall it is also out of the wind!




27th December 2015

Paeonia cambessedesii .
Peonies have attracted my attention from time to time. I am looking for a suitable site to grow them where I can protect them from the excess rain and provide some sunshine. It is one of those questions that I will consider for several years before I actually do anything. In the meantime there are odd peonies dotted around the place wherever conditions seem right. It isn't really a collection, more a group of remarkable individuals.
Most of them are already producing fat red buds at ground level but Paeonia cambessedesii has gone a step further. In a few weeks the buds will be ready to open. I have two plants that grow in the Agave house. They were planted so that they would pollinate eachother and it seems to have worked because I also have a tray of seedlings growing on, but they don't count.
When I moved into this garden it had an enormous sky that stretched from one horizon to the other. Almost the first thing I introduced was a flock of pigeons that would wheel through it with delight. One of the great pleasures of life is to sit in the morning sun and count a flock of pigeons as they sparkle through the sky. You look for patterns to make sense of the tumbling shapes, and as soon as you arrive at a number you start again, to see if you can confirm it.
During the 1990's there was a very welcome recovery in the local population of Peregrine Falcons but it meant that the pigeons had to go. Even when they were flying, they were sitting targets. Since then, counting in patterns has been less satisfying. I have two Paeonia cambessedesii and they each have two shoots. It isn't really exhilarating.





27th December 2015

Galanthus 'Lyn' .
I have a little garden for the snowdrops where they are easy to manage. At the end of summer I go over it with a weedkiller and by the time the noses start to show, the ground is bare. There are snowdrops in the rest of the garden, but the management is less intensive. They grow under the shade of shrubs where the weeds won't go and they grow in the rough grass where the mower will.
Galanthus 'Lyn' is just one of the many named forms that have arisen from 'Atkinsii'. It is perhaps a little earlier than some and more stable than many - I have yet to see it produce the extra tepals that 'Atkinsii' conjures in the form of 'James Backhouse' or 'Moccas'. It is also smaller in both stature and flower.
There was a brief lull in the rain on Wednesday and I found myself among the snowdrops. No doubt I will buy something new this year and it is useful to look over the space and get some idea of where things will go. Under normal circumstances I would say it was useful to spend a moment in the garden getting a sense of perspective, but we are talking snowdrops here and there is no sense of perspective.
With the sun almost shining and still buzzing from a cup of coffee I looked back along the rows fighting the urge to count them and lost in a reverie of the changes through the year. The strangest thoughts arrive as my mind wanders happily through the seasons in the garden. One, two, three - the nodding white heads of spring are showing - seven, eight, nine.
I have arrived at the end of the year with more snowdrops flowering than One Direction have testicles!