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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


26th March 2017

Anemone apennina double form
After a taste of spring last week, we were back to mist and rain for most of this. Fortunately the weekend sun has shone brightly and it has been wonderful. I can't remember the last time I spent an entire day in the garden, and naturally I have made a phenomenal mess but the clocks have gone forward, the evenings are lighter and there is still time for a gigantic bonfire. I will clean up in the week!
The Wood Amenones are all flowering but in the grim weather earlier in the week it was impossible to get a decent picture among them. I looked at them today, flowers wide open and facing the sun, and I nearly stopped to take some pictures. But not nearly enough. I have been felling trees, and once I get into the toppling habit it is difficult to stop. Once I have the trees cleared I have somewhere to put the Crocosmia and then I can sort out the front of the herbaceous border which will give me some space behind for the tree ferns currently in the greenhouse, which will free up space...and so it goes on.
It all started with a determination last autumn to get the Hedychium out into a border. It's a long and circuitous path, but I have the double form of Anemone apennina to keep me focussed. The Anemone are doing well, but they need more space and I keep buying new ones. Once the Hedychium are sorted out (and they really do need it) I can turn my attention to the Anemone.
Spring is so tiring. One day and already I feel as though I could sleep until winter.


26th March 2017

Erythronium 'Margaret Mathew'
Erythronium are very satisfying. It took me many years to come to that conclusion. The flowers are so perfect and the leaves so perfect that a perverse part of me wanted them to be a failure in the garden. I can't explain it, they just look so fragile I have a hard time believing they will grow midst the chaos and mischance of my garden, not to mention the mud and the falling trees. Still, grow they do and I haven't been able to resist buying them in the last few years whenever I have seen them. I haven't gone as far as to search them out but I have a feeling it is chance rather than my famous sense of moderation that has held me back.
'Margaret Mathew' is a very beautiful cold greenish white, raised by E.B. Anderson in 1956 but named by Kath Dryden much later. It is supposed to be a hybrid between E. tuolumnense and E. oregonum and it was a pivotal moment for me when I bought it. I got home and realised that I was collecting Erythronium and I should consider what I was doing.
For a time I thought I could dot them around under the trees and it would be both a collection and a garden, but I have made that mistake with snowdrops. It just looked bitty and eventually I dug them all up again and moved them. Galanthus plicatus is being helped to spread into thick carpets in their place, and among them I have planted Erythronium 'Pagoda'. I have been putting in a hundred a year for the last three years and as the snowdrops are fading, the broad mottled leaves are pushing up.
I nearly had to stop felling just to sit among them this afternoon. Nearly.


26th March 2017

Pleione Piton
Enough sun to warm the greenhouse, and the Pleione have risen to the occasion. At least, those that can have. The first to flower is usually my clone of P. Eiger, which is never a tall grex, but my clone seems to be particularly short. The flowers hardly have a stem, they droop over the edge of the pot and seem to invite damage. It has made me appreciate P. 'Piton' which always stands up on tall stems. The grex is formed from the hybrids between P. formosana and P. yunnanensis and the latter parent has particularly upright flower stems, which it imparts to the hybrid. A few clones have been named, but I think there is scope for considerably more given the variability of P. formosana.
My clone is more or less typical of the plants in cultivation. My attempt to increase the range of plants I grow came to an unfortunate end when a pseudobulb of a selected seedling flowered and dropped dead. That was the end of that good idea. Still, if I saw another clone I would have it. I like to flatter myself that I am getting better at establishing new pseudobulbs. I always feel like that at this time of the year with the flower buds bursting. In three or four months it will be clear which of the bulbs have established and are increasing, and which of them will just shrivel away when the leaves die down. That's when I swear I will never spend good money on a special bulb again.



26th March 2017

Narcissus 'Mesa Verde'
It's not a determination that lasts for long. I saw Narcissus 'Mesa Verde' on Ron Scamp's stand at one of the shows last year, and immediately ordered a bulb. It duly arrived at the end of summer and I carried it up into the garden to plant with something approaching reverence. It has the dubious distinction of being the most expensive daffodil bulb I have ever purchased, and when the leaves started to grow this spring, without any sign of a bud, I was "mildly frustrated". Yes, let's call it that. It's a late flowerer, it was just teasing me. A few week later the spike started to show and I started to worry about all the little perils that can befall a single daffodil flower on its journey to perfection.
I needn't have lost sleep, everything has been fine. The remarkable yellow-green flower opened this week. I went out in the rain to take a picture when it first opened but I managed to get a better one on Saturday when the sun came out. I took a break from felling trees to be certain of it and left some lentil soup cooking while I did so.
This was raised by Robert Spotts in California. The climate there allows him to grow N. viridiflorus which he has used in his hybridising to produce some interesting green shaded flowers that will hopefully grow under more typical daffodil conditions. In this case N. viridiflorus is one of the grandparents on the pollen side.
I would love to grow N. viridiflorus itself. Perhaps the Nerine house is Californian enough. I have tried once before, so long ago that I didn't keep any records. As I recall I cherished the pot the bulb was planted in for a couple of years before I accepted it was never going to grow. All that remained was a bulb shaped cavity in the compost and that same "mild frustration".
So I am enjoying this single flower, perhaps more than I can explain.