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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


25th December 2016

Nerine sarniensis
I have never imagined that rain was a Christmas gift but that is how it has turned out this week. Erratic weather has found me uninspired in the garden. Every slight shower has left me saying "It's Christmas, I'm not going to stand around geting wet this week!". A thousand little jobs have been left undone thanks to the impending birth of Gluttony.
Yesterday I finally got to the Hedychium sitting in their giant pots on the summer staging. In spring when I moved them out from the greenhouse I promised myself never again, this winter I am going to cover them over where they are and let them take their chances. Another one of those resolutions that didn't last. Yesterday afternoon was spent dragging them all back inside again. It's a success that feels like a failure, or is it the other way around? I wonder what Theresa May is really thinking?
If it starts to rain, I go and hide among the Nerine. This white N. sarniensis is pleasantly late. It is probably because it is the first flowering of a seedling but it's nice to imagine it might be the start of a late flowering group. I have a couple of others still going and it would be sensible to raise a family of late flowering seedlings. Unfortunately the pollen goes mouldy as soon as it is shed in this dank weather so I'm not very optimistic.


25th December 2016

Camellia 'November Pink'
Last spring I visited the National Collection of Camellia at Mount Edgecumbe and was overwhelmed by the scale of it. I wanted to visit every fortnight through the spring to get a feel for the range of cultivars grown. I didn't manage it, but I did determine to try harder the following year. Suddenly the season is upon us. I have no doubt that if I visited now I would see the best of the early cultivars in flower. It would be a sensible thing to do.
'November Pink' has ignored the mildness of the autumn and waited until December before producing the first flowers. I imagine that like the Hamamelis it has needed a touch of cold to get it moving. It is the start of the main Camellia season, a classic C. x williamsii from the original group of seedlings raised. It is still in the greenhouse because there is nowhere outside to put it just yet. I have a group of young trees that are going to come down soon. It might have happened this week but it's Christmas, I'm not going to stand around in the cold clearing up timber. That's where it will probably go, eventually.


25th December 2016

Lachenalia bulbifera 'George'
Lachenalia have been filling their pots with fresh leaves for weeks. They are appreciating the move into large tubs (after a year or two's indecision). There is a diversity of forms that were once grouped together as L. aloides that will flower in the spring, but L. bulbifera from the Western Cape performs reliably at the end of the year. The species varies from orange to red, and some are earlier than others. I would like to grow a range of them, but in recent years 'George' has dominated the market. It is vigorous and tolerant so it deserves its place. Introduced by Rupert Bowlby and named after the city in the Western Cape province where it originated, it is at the pinkest end of the colour range. Forms from the Southern Cape are said to be shorter and have blood-curdling orange flowers. If I had any winter blues, I would stand them together.
The leaves are vulnerable to radiation frost and it is time to walk round the greenhouse with a bundle of fleece scraps, leaving them in strategic positions in case I have to rush out one evening and cover things over. It won't be happening today.



25th December 2016

Cyclamen coum
It has been a mild autumn. The summer extended into October and the first frosts were late and fleeting. Spring is in the air. A fat Song Thrush was establishing a territory on Thursday ready for the madness to come. These are the quiet weeks of winter when it is possible to stand back and watch things develop slowly. Before long the pace will quicken, already a friend has Azaleas in flower. I went and gave mine a stern talking to. They are not to move until March or there will be trouble. Too much fun at once spoils the pleasure.
Cyclamen coum should really have waited until the new year. I expect to see it as Galanthus 'Moccas' appears in January, the screeching pink of its flowers disturbing the dignity of the snowdrops at that end of the garden. Down by the house I have a tub of corms I planted last spring. I got them the year before from a nursery that was throwing them out in March. They hadn't sold and they weren't worth keeping. Most of them are subtle white shaded things that nobody wanted. It's clear I'm not the only one who prefers the scary pinks.
In the tub I have watched the pointed buds unfold from the ground. High temperatures this week have rushed them into bloom. Next to them, the Hellebores are swelling. It is a good time of year but already it feels as though too much is moving. The year has shot by at a reckless speed. I should have cooled things down, enjoyed the moment more. Spent a bit longer standing in the rain watching the seconds tick past.
Happy Christmas.