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JEARRARD'S HERBAL



5th June 2016

Roscoea cautleyoides 'Early Yellow'
All of a sudden there is heat in the garden, and it isn't just because I lit a bonfire. There has hardly been a breeze all week, the garden has an unfamiliar stillness about it. I hope the sweat has been falling from the trees because if it's coming from me I must stink most of the time.
A couple of weeks ago I moved the Hedychium out from under the benches, they had been there for quite long enough. If I had moved them out in March they would have been thoroughly soaked by now but the new shoots are starting to grow and they are still rather dry. Rain is promised towards the end of the week, but we all know that means nothing. The Cautleya are a bit further advanced, the new shoots have elongated and the first full sized leaves are unrolling at their tips.
The first of the Roscoea are much further forward, though they have been held back by cold weather in March and April. 'Early Yellow' can flower in March as the first shoots appear above the ground but this year there was nothing. The shoots didn't appear until mid April and the flowers have only just opened. Hot weather means they probably won't last long but the first of the R.purpurea are already showing and ready to take over.



5th June 2016

Convolvulus lineatus
I don't know if it is the spell of hot weather or just chance that has brought Convolvulus lineatus into flower. It is a small growing bindweed with distinctive silver leaves and a Southern Mediterranean distribution including North Africa. It extends into France at its northern limit . Natural populations are declining as a result of habitat fragmentation and because it forms self-incompatible clonal colonies.
The flower should be a typical pale pink bindweed but this one has split into distinct lobes, possibly as a result of drought or heat or personal idiosyncrasy. I'm not going to judge, this is the first time it has flowered for several years and for a while I was afraid that it was fading away. It is growing without much attention in the Agave house, but if I can get a bit off the side, I will try it among the alpines where I can keep a closer eye on it.



5th June 2016

Hemerocallis 'Golden West'
For a while it felt as though Spring was going to dawdle along through the calendar and it is easy to be complacent and imagine it will last forever, but the evergreen azaleas arrived and had barely opened before the flowers melted onto the expanding leaves like the crust on a rice pudding. Spring has evaporated into Summer. There is a quiet philosophical pleasure in watching the inevitability of it , and then I see the herbaceous border. I was going to do great things this year, remove all the fussy detail, consolidate things into larger clumps and plant more lush and leafy things. Sadly, the time has gone and nothing got done. Perhaps it will be possible in autumn.
Hemerocallis are one cause of the problem, and also a solution. The border houses a lot of them because I have a decent, possibly even indecent, collection of them and they have to go somewhere. They have beautiful flowers rising above leaves that become tedious almost as soom as the daffodils fade. Large lush foliage is needed to pep it up. However, on the plus side they flower well regardless of how little attention I give them, and 'Golden West' has been the first to open.
It is an old cultivar raised by H.P. Sass and registered in 1932. It wouldn't have a future in todays market but I have a fondness for these ancient gentlemen.




5th June 2016

Typhonium venosum
If there is a stink in the garden, it may well be me but I am pleased to share at least part of the offence with Typhonium venosum. It opened yesterday and in a hot greenhouse it was mildly repulsive. By this morning the smell had faded so that a bunch of them would still be an offensive gift, but not malodorous.
I first grew it as a child, when it was possible to buy the wrinkled tubers on the High Street for a few pennies. Sat on a shelf in a warm room they would flower unpleasantly and then when potted up produce a single exotic leaf. I don't recall ever keeping one through to the following year, I remember being quite astonished when I saw a friend growing it outside, in the shelter of a south wall. Nowadays it grows in the greenhouse because the only south wall is in the shade of a large Magnolia which is quite smelly enough already.
So the Voodoo Lily is an old friend and familiarity has long since erased the shock of the flowers. It is found throughout tropical Africa and Asia, exotic and mysterious but for me it will always be one of the seasonal wonders of the basement floor of Woolworths.