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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


2nd July 2017

Disa (aurata x Colette Cywes 'Peach Blush') clone 1
It feels as though we have had a week of rain. It isn't true, the sun has come out this morning but there is rain in all the shadows and droplets in the long grass. Water tanks look satisfyingly full. On Thursday evening I sat down and relaxed because nothing needed watering and rain was falling. It continued all day Friday, which was particularly good news for my tax return which always has to wait for a rainy summer day. The last drops fell as I woke up on Saturday, the sun came out and suddenly it was too hot to work again. I returned to demolishing the conservatory, which I haven't touched for a month, got too hot so took my lunch down to the beach and read a book in the shade.
Down in the greenhouse the Disa have been enjoying the rain. In the warm weather the water trays evaporate and the water looks murky. They don't like it. A good storm washes through and freshens it up, leaves look greener and the plants seem to perk up. It is surprising the number of buds that opened yesterday.
I made this hybrid a couple of years ago, and this is the first plant to flower. I am especially pleased that it has yellow/orange flowers. I had previously assumed that the yellow colour would disappear in the first generation and that I would have to self pollinate them to get it back. I'm still going to do it, because I want a larger flower, but selection it is a much simpler task now.


2nd July 2017

Roscoea alpina
Roscoea flower from spring through to autumn, but I think of them as spring flowers. R. cautleyoides pops up with the daffodils and links the whole genus to the vernal lunacy. R. alpina flowers from late May until August in habitat, and sticks to the same schedule here. It is a spring flower that comes up late and hangs on until autumn.
It grows at altitudes of 2,000 - 4,300m in habitat where the seasons are simpler. Growing season (May - August), not growing season (the rest of the year). The soft weather of Cornwall isn't enough to tempt if from its montane schedule though it does sit around for a while after seeding, twiddling its thumbs and anticipating snow in September. Not here I hope.
A few years ago I planted all of the Roscoea outside and left them to get on with it. I was drowning in hybrid seedlings and there was simply nowhere to put them all. They have all grown but last year I got some free bench space and they started to return inside. Now the bench space is occupied and I have some decisions to make. I have a few hundred red seedlings waiting to be pricked out and they have to go somewhere. It feels like I've been here before and I need a better solution this time.


2nd July 2017

Disa (Foam x Luke Edwards) clone 1
I keep records obsessively. There is no other word for it. I get a simple pleasure from the act of filing things away in their proper place. I like the tidiness of it, which astonishes me because I am not a tidy person. I like the sense that I will be able to find the information that I can't remember. It gives me a feeling of security which is strange because forgetting things doesn't bother me at all. I shrug my shoulders and welcome the ignorance like a warm bath. Still, I spent all of Friday and Saturday evenings putting away a basket of snippets of information that has filled in the last month. Very satisfying.
With all this record keeping you might think I would know what I was doing, but that rarely seems to be the case. I know what I did. I pollinated a flower of D. Foam with pollen from D. Luke Edwards. I used my unnamed clone of Luke Edwards not D. Luke Edwards 'Speckles'. I know exactly what I did, and if I can find the original label, I know exactly when I did it. What I am struggling to understand is why. Not something I recorded. I crossed a big red hybrid with a big pink hybrid for some reason. It could have been pollen intoxication. After an hour or two hybridising in the greenhouse, all intention evaporates and it turns into an orgy.
I only raised a few seedlings, they were big and pink or red. I only kept one, it had produced two flower spikes in its first year and looked vigorous. In its second year it is astonishing. In my (completely objective) view, this is the best one I have raised yet. I am left laughing at my accumulated records. I do my best work when I don't know what I'm doing (or, alternatively, I'm at my best at an orgy).



2nd July 2017

Nerine angustifolia
My father's mother was a connoisseur of fine food and wore a hat decorated with multicoloured silk leaves. We called her Nangustifolia, but now I have corrected the typo that makes no sense at all. Why is it that most mental ideas are frowned upon but mental arithmetic is good?
The sun has come out, I am a little light headed. Here we are, barely summer and I have a Nerine in flower. I went looking last week to make sure N. masonorum wasn't producing any sneaky spikes and as I turned away I spotted this. At the time it was just a short stem poking through the leaves but in this heat it has developed rapidly. Yesterday I had buds, this morning I have flowers. It has done the decent thing and waited until the longest day has passed but I am speechless. My vocabulary doesn't have a suitable swear word to express the wonder of early Nerine flowers while there are still Camellia blooms hanging from the bushes.
Last year it flowered at the end of July, and I thought it was an early flowering accident. This year it is starting to look like a habit. I know there won't be a lot to follow for a couple of months, but it nice to see the start of the Nerine season, they occupy a lot of my attention through the autumn. Traditionally, I find them a delightful compensation for the fading of the Disa but I might have to reconsider that idea. Can I store pollen for a couple of months until there is something else to use it on? Time will tell. Alternatively, N. undulata 'Winter Sun' stopped flowering at the end of February and I may be able to store pollen from that next year. As I recall the pollen was a bit past it by the end of February but it is worth considering. And the purpose of such a hybrid? Large multicoloured early flowering Nerine of easy culture with evergreen leaves.
There, I have recorded it!