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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


5th June 2017

Roscoea cautleyoides White Form
At last it is starting to look like summer. Bright sun, long evenings and the constant uncertainty about rain. This was going to be the year when everything went out, the greenhouse got sorted and I only took things back that needed to be there. Unsurprisingly it didn't work that way. The spring was so dry that I left things where I could water them. A shower in the week finally convinced me the time had come. The last of the Cymbidium came out of the house and last night I moved all the surplus Billbergia into the garden. They should be fine, and if they aren't, well they're surplus. Aspidistra are next. I have space for the tender ones, but the hardy forms will enjoy life outside (I keep telling myself). I would like to have it done by midsummer but that may be a little optimistic.
I am left asking myself why the Roscoea have been slowly moving back into the greenhouse? The answer is quite simple, I want to raise some more seedlings and it is much easier if they are on the bench. I am pleased that in my enthusiasm for bringing them in last autumn I ran out of time. A dozen came in, but most are still out there. R. cautleyoides White Form is one of the better forms of the species. The seedlings I have seen vary a little but they are all very pale yellow. Perhaps there is a pure white one out there, but I haven't seen it. However they are all better than 'Vanilla' which I can't distinguish from from typical plants of the species. The White Form stayed outside where it looks best and where it belongs. The others might rejoin it shortly.


5th June 2017

Puya spathacea
Since it last flowered Puya spathacea has been building into a nice clump in the Agave house. I planted it in a fairly random moment and I am lucky it is exactly the right scale for the space available. It is entirely chance. P. berteroana was planted beside it at about the same time, and was moved outside last year. The single rosette had grown so large that it was clear I have nowhere under cover that would house it. I would love it to be hardy - it prospers just a couple of miles south, on the coast - but I think a harsh winter would kill it. Still, take a chance. If nothing else it reminds me to stick to the smaller species if I am going to plant them in the greenhouse. Ideally I would stick to the smaller species without aggressive spines. Are there any of those?
The species is recorded from both Bolivia and Argentina though descriptions of the flower colour vary. I am going to ignore those that say it should be pale blue. Perhaps it is just variable. Puya hybridise if they get the chance. Mine has flowers of such a dark blue shade they appear black, a dark contrast to the pale pink stems, bracts and calyces. I have seen plants with bright red stems, but I don't think I am growing it in bright enough light to hope for that. Last time it flowered it didn't set any seed. If I get any this time it would be nice to grow some and check for variation. Unfortunately I am trying to stick to the new realism. I have room for one, I don't have room for twenty.
However, in the heat of the moment I would probably sow the seed. It wouldn't be a problem for a year or two, what's the harm!


5th June

Disa Colette Cywes 'Peach Blush'
Madness comes in many forms, and some of them are attached to plants. I find it strange that some things are insanely collectable and others aren't. There seem to be dozens of us who suffer from Disa madness but I don't think I have met anybody who raves about Ornithogalum. I don't understand it, but then I have Disa madness, and extreme short sightedness is definitely a symptom.
Some warm weather has finally pushed the Disa into flower. I finally finished repotting the plants about three weeks ago and not a moment too soon. I was going to carry on and prick out the seedlings as well, but (impossible to believe) I had seen enough of Disa for a few weeks. I will carry on once the flowers start to fade (assuming I can find any more space).
Disa Colette Cywes 'Peach Blush' is surrounded by the usual Disa madness. Disa racemosa was crossed with D. tripetaloides to get the perfectly lovely D. Langleyensis. Then the lure of the giant scarlet triangles took hold and it was crossed with D. uniflora and then again with D. uniflora until it is remarkable that any pale colour remains. A good thing, because lovely as they are, there are ENOUGH big scarlet hybrids out there (but that won't stop people producing more, it won't even stop me).
As to the personal madness, I had a plant of the clone 'Blush' when I saw this one advertisewd as 'Peach Blush'. Had to have it, even though I think it is the same thing and that 'Blush' is the correct name. It didn't stop me, and I won't change it.



5th June 2017

Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola'
There is a moment of cool reflective sanity in the garden at present. Not so much a moment perhaps as a bucketful. Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola' was planted in a large plastic storage container filled with water. It stands in full sun and the plastic must be slowly degrading. Eventually the last of the plasticisers will be lost and the container will shatter under the strain of supporting about 20 gallons of water. I can see it is going to happen, and I will be desolate if the water lily suffers but I'm not doing anything about it.
I wish water lilies were collectable, then I could go properly insane. I know there are people who do collect them. People with a high water table mostly who get ponds forming in every little footprint in the garden. I live on a steep slope, for me a pond requires a bucket or some serious engineering works. So I confine my delight to 'Pygmaea Helvola'. I did flirt with the idea of collecting together the "Pygmaea" forms for some multicoloured joy but then I saw some of the others in flower. There wasn't a lot of joy on show and they weren't tiny and delightful like this one.
All of which means that I can pass the bucket on a sunny day and there is an unexpected perfect wonder floating on the surface of the stagnant sludge. I don't even like to think about what's going on beneath, I just enjoy the superficial moment.