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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


16th July 2017

Platycodon grandiflorus 'Astra Pink'
A cool week has made it much easier to work in the garden. A few light showers haven't added much but the cloud cover has kept the greenhouse cool. I should have watered on Thursday but in the event I didn't have to do it until Saturday morning so it has been a relatively calm and unflustered week. The kettle's boiling, a stiff cup of coffee should put an end to that.
I went up into the Agave house on Friday evening and in the dusk the large pink flowers of Platycodon grandiflorus stood out. I had seen the shelves of the supermarkets stocked with them when I went shopping, so I knew the time was right but it was still a delight.
The Astra strain were developed for use as bedding and pot plants, coming easily and reliably from seed. A few years ago I planted a dozen through the Agave house to add some colour in the summer. There is too much good taste in gardening at present. It's a lttle bit like only eating the crispy end of a chip and throwing away the stodgy middle, aesthetics gone mad. Still, either characteristically or uncharacteristically, I only planted the pink ones. The white could have been spectacular, or the purple dark and brooding but I thought the pink might be nice among the glaucous rosettes of the agave.
I'm amazed they have survived, they get no water. Per ardua ad Astra, or is that taking things too far?


16th July 2017

Begonia boliviensis
The Agave house is a long low building tucked into the side of the hill. Somebody said it was rather elegant in the week. I assume the comment edited out "compared with your usual constructions". For a moment I was struck dumb with horror, but I accept the compliment. Some early portent of the elegance to come led me to embelish the subtle grey and pink planting with a few bright orange Begonia boliviensis. A few years ago it suddenly became popular again and appeared in all the garden centres. Now it has once more drifted into obscurity and the time has come to raise some seedlings. If I lost it I don't know where I could get another.
It tolerates the dry conditions rather than enjoying them. It doesn't grow into the great bushes of wonder I could hope for if I watered it in summer but it seems to survive on the moisture in the ground. The process of clearing away the conservatory has now got down to ground level. I have some paving to take away and stack in a corner and then I will have a delightful south facing garden by the house, just the place for Begonia boliviensis to look stunning. In the time it has taken to demolish the conservatory I have re-planned the planting a dozen times, so it may not happen. The thought gives as much pleasure as the garden will.


16th July 2017

Dactylicapnos scandens
Sometimes I curse the fact that I have a garden made up of odd corners. I could sweep it all away and arrange a large circular path that I could trundle around on the lawnmower in dizzy delight. I love the idea that one day it might be simple and organised. Nothing to do but rev the motor and sing embarrassingly old pop songs. I should be so lucky.
I was clearing space this morning to stack the paving slabs I am about to lift, when I found a Camellia in the corner that I had forgotten I had bought. Odd corners have their attraction after all. In another I have Dactylicapnos scandens prospering. I like the idea of a climbing Dicentra and I have tried to grow a couple of species, but this is the only one that has persisted in the garden. They all seem to grow well from seed and bloom easily in the greenhouse but they aren't long lived. As my last group of potted youngsters started to wane I planted one alongside Clematis viticella.
Both are growing in full sun, and both seem to be prospering. When the Clematis flowers it is going to be a very odd corner.



16th July 2017

Cyclamen hederifolium
At the start of July we had a day of drizzle. All the water tanks filled and I stayed indoors and completed my tax return. It's a job for a miserable mid-summer day. As I looked out of the window in the evening I thought it might have been enough to start the Cyclamen under the trees. Last weekend I went looking and was delighted they weren't showing. It wasn't enough rain, perhaps they will wait until August. A cool week, a few light showers and they are off. Yesterday I had a little cluster of flowers pushing up between the ivy leaves.
It is always pleasing to find them, but it marks the start of autumn (though the first Nerine has already flowered so it shouldn't be a surprise).
Every year I mean to mark this plant to see if it is the same one that appears early. It always seems to happen in about the same place but the undergrowth around it changes subtly from month to month like a slow motion ocean so it is easy to lose your bearings.
I watered the summer growing Nerine a little to keep them going. Pots with leaves get water, pots with no leaves, no water. It is a simple process until I got to Acis autumnalis. I have a few pots and they share a greenhouse with the Nerine (though as space gets tight they will be looking for a new corner). No leaves, no sign of growth, but they got a good drench. Any moment now the flowering spikes will appear. Then comes Prospero autumnale and the clashing crescendo of the Nerine season.
A summer gap, time to demolish a conservatory, and it is back to clearing the ground for the Colchicum to flower. Then it's snowdrops.
Some people like a clock ticking in the bedroom. Its comforting regularity helps them sleep. In the same way I welcome the appearance of the Cyclamen as the circular path trundles through their odd corner.