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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


9th July 2017

Rosa 'Toby Tristram'
Another week of hot summer weather with the promise of rain at the end. I sat on the beach last night and watched a juggler practice dropping things with aplomb. Anyone can drop things but doing it with panache requires practice. There were occasional dark clouds but rain seemed unlikely. This morning I lit the bonfire and as soon as it started to flare a light drizzle started. Welcome, unexpected and unlikely to last, the bonfire laughed at it.
Rosa 'Toby Tristram' has been slowly devouring the bank behind the house. It has a short season and it doesn't go in for any of that new-fangled repeat flowering nonsense, so this is it. Over the last few years I have taken close-ups of it, highlighted it against the sky and pictured it at an angle with the long hanging shoots arching over the path but I have never photographed it head on.
The big job of the week (and "big-job" is the mildest thing I have had to say on the subject) has been the demolition of the conservatory. After thirty years I have had enough of its tatty, gloomy convenience. A head-on picture of 'Toby Tristram' (and some beach time) have been my reward. The building occupied the space in front of the rose. I have pointed the camera up or you would see that the rubble still occupies the ground. Clearing up is a job for next week


9th July 2017

Watsonia (pillansii pink x 'Stanford Scarlet')
Watsonia 'Stanford Scarlet' is a good thing producing abundant upright spikes from compact clumps. It grows tall but it doesn't flop. I crossed it with a plant that I know as "pillansii pink". It is pink, but it has little or nothing to do with Watsonia pillansii. It was the best pink I grew, quite compact and very floriferous. I hoped to get something interesting from the hybrid. I should have pricked out the seedlings and grown them all on but you know how things are. There is never enough time or space, so the whole lot got planted out together. Several flowered but only this one survives. It has outgrown, outcompeted and finally exterminated all the rivals. It is vigorous and that is a good attribute. I would have spent hours agonizing over which ones to keep and in the end would have chosen the feeblest because it had larger flowers and I felt sorry for it. Leaving it to natural selection has been a good choice.
I was convinced that the second generation would produce something magnificent. I pricked them all out and to this day they remain in pots in the greenhouse, struggling. I really must plant them out somewhere. My determination isn't helped by the first to flower which is surprisingly ordinary. Perhaps I would have been more impressed in the ground. I was hoping that I might find something redder than 'Stanford Scarlet' which still has a decided orange glow but nothing so far.
Meantime the parent gets better every year giving a month of colour at the height of summer.


9th July 2017

Hemerocallis 'Burning Daylight'
Daylilies are something of a problem. They make good clumps and they have good foliage as they develop. I have hundreds, and it is a great deal more than I need. To be honest it's a great deal more than I want but I can't quite get rid of them. They are almost all grown in pots now. When I moved here I lined them all out in the field and spent the next ten years trying to sort them all out again. I got fed up with trying to match flowers with pictures and names on the list. Anything that had lost its label was planted out in the garden as filler. Those that survived are magnificent, those still in pots are feeble. I don't really have room to plant them all out, though I am going to use them as spacers when the Hedychium finally get planted. Perhaps that will solve the issue.
'Burning Daylight' brings the problem into sharp focus. Most of my plants are old hybrids, what would now be termed "historical" cultivars. I would like to throw them out and get something newer but I keep being impressed. 'Burning Daylight' is sixty years old, raised by H. A. Fischer in 1957 and gained an Award of Merit in 1967. It is still the best orange-yellow I know with a distinctive low habit and it always performs well. Perhaps the modern ones will be as reliable, it is too soon to tell.
I think I have talked myself into keeping the old-folks again. There are some really good things among them and if I am ruthless I can get rid of those that suffer from premature tattiness.



9th July 2017

Crocosmia 'Hellfire'
It isn't fair to say that Crocosmia have only recently attracted the attention of breeders, there are hundreds of old hybrids but they had fallen by the wayside. In the 1970's there were barely a dozen available and only half of those were worth growing. Since then there has been a resurgence of interest and the first phase of increasing popularity is always to scrabble through the back borders of abandoned gardens looking for the remnants of past times. Hundreds of old survivors have been located and named, very few of them worth the effort. The second wave of development comes with the breeding of some genuine improvements, and in the last decade a few have appeared. 'Paul's Best Yellow' speaks for itself, 'Fire Jumper' proves that there is still something to be gained from new orange cultivars and 'Hellfire' makes it clear that 'Lucifer' wasn't the last word in red.
Bred by Ken Ridgely it is the best red flowered cultivar I have seen, the flower stems remain upright through the season unlike 'Lucifer' which flops about. I have just seen a border composed entirely in shades of red that was jaw-droppingly wonderful, something I am going to have to try myself despite my usual lack of enthusiasm for the nonsense of colour themes. 'Hellfire' is where I will start.
The real world returns with a bump. First there is the watering and the rubble to deal with.