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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


18th June 2017

Magnolia tripetala
Last week I was talking about rain, and now that seems like a wondrous story from a history book. I find hot weather exhausting and the last few days have been difficult. I watered the greenhouse on friday night and noticed on saturday morning that it needed doing again. I grow the spectacularly variegated Fallopia japonica 'Spectabile' in a pot standing in a water tray (to contain it securely). Last night as I came indoors the large pink and white leaves shone through the gloom. This evening the leaves have wilted and look like the crust of dead algae on a dried up pond. It will revive, it's a tough old thing.
At this time of year the shade in the garden is a wonderful relief. One or two Camellia blooms are still hanging on. I imagine that the fields at Glastonbury have the same feeling in the week after the festival ends. The last of the Magnolia is also whispering as quietly as the wind among the leaves. Magnolia tripetala came from a friend who had grown it from seed and didn't really know what to do next, so I planted it in the garden. By the end of the first year it was a favourite. I don't know why some plants get lodged in my affection, this doesn't seem an obvious candidate. The flowers are plain and sparse, the perfume teeters on the boundary between magnolia and dead horse, just falling on the right side at the last inhalation. I wandered up there in the cool of this evening, partly to take this picture, but mostly for the pleasure of it.


18th June 2017

Conandron ramondoides white form
A Japanese gesneriad that I don't seem to have featured for almost a decade. I was always told that it wouldn't tolerate any moisture in the winter, and for the first few years I kept it as dry as dust once it had retreated to its winter rosette. I wasn't surprised when it died in the first of the harsh winters (2009/10 for those who have chosen to forget). I could blame the cold but I think it was really dessication. I mourned for a year or two. It seemed appropriate, and then replaced it with a bright shiny new one. Thankfully there are some skilled people out there keeping it going. I was tempted to pretend that this was the original but I have to admit it. I am a Conandron killer, though I prefer the term ramondoidicide.
This time I listened to the sage advice of specialists but took it with a pinch of salt. It lives under the bench in the greenhouse and I stop watering it in late autumn, but don't allow it to dessicate. It is dryish rather than dry. It gets bigger year by year and I am very fond of it. The unrolling flower spikes have me stooping down under the bench and clapping my hands in glee. I don't know why I clap my hands, it happens in the blissful vacuum before the mind engages and long before any words form.
The pink form differs in two respects. Flower colour and the fact that I haven't missed it. Like the clapping, it makes no sense, even to me.


18th June

Crusea coccinea
A picture to celebrate a remarkable plant. A little creeping thing from the cloud forests of Mexico, it wasn't expected to be very hardy when introduced, so I planted it in the Agave house. I was invoking some sort of Mexican magic by putting them all together. It seems to have worked. The Agave have grown taller and the Crusea has spread widely. It had made a dense mat of mid-green leaves, spangled through the greater part of the year with clusters of the long scarlet trumpet shaped flowers (if trumpets had four petals).
Last week I rejoiced that the lawnmower had been repaired and I cut all the grass. This week I was forced to weed the Agave house, a job I don't relish and try to put off. It is hot in there and very spiky.
In the process I was forced to take steps to control the Crusea. I enjoy the mat forming approach, I have cherished its spread and forgiven its encroachments thinking all the time that it is fragile and tender and that allowances should be made. It had formed a carpet some 3m wide and something had to be done. Several large and spiky plants had been swallowed up, the tips of their spines poking through searching for light. Drowning not waving.
I have removed it from the path, rescued several plants and reduced it to a sensible size. This picture is just a memory and a reminder. I will root some more and plant it round the garden. It would be lovely in a pot by the front door or scrambling around the sunny places. I will keep a plant in the Agave house, as safe as possible from the cold and the beautiful blood red flowers will remind me. Next time weed the Agave house before it gets out of hand.



18th June 2017

Disa (Foam x Luke Edwards) clone 3
My affection for certain plants mystifies me. Some attribute catches hold and they are with you for life. Other plants are easier to understand. I am tempted to call this one of my babies but this sort of parenthood would see the children taken into care. I don't remember why I crossed the parents originally. It wouldn't have been a whim but I only record what I have done, not why I did it. I didn't raise many seedlings from the cross, but I have only kept three of them. The rest were Disappointing. (There is no doubt, that is nearly the worst joke I have ever tried). So this is a selection that I value, but not a baby. You aren't generally encouraged to discard the dud children.
Last year it was vigorous and produced three spikes, flowering for the first time. This year it has six. Well formed, large, mid pink flowers. I think it is a good thing. A number of people have visited this week, and they have all picked it out on the Disa bench. What is that lovely one. Do you have a spare. No. It was becoming monotonous. I was rather flattered that people agreed with me (but not flattered enough to part with it). Refusal is an awkward thing, even when followed with a perfectly reasonable explanation. I have a friend with a perfect solution, I wish I had learned it sooner.
I'm awfully sorry, he says, I can't spare it yet, but I have a sister seedling if you would like to try it?
Everybody's happy and the doomed Disa live to disappoint another day.