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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


30th July 2017

Philesia magellanica
Calm weather seems to have deserted us for the summer. For the most part the temperatures have fallen, though they rise again very rapidly when the rain ends. Last night I pulled the duvet close around me and needed the warmth. On Tuesday I had a run-in with a posse of horse flies in a friends garden. They chased, I ran. I try to think charitable thoughts but swatting them is an enormous, if temporary, relief. They have emerged in the damp weather and hang around in the shade waiting for me. Fortunately my little bit of hillside is too windy for them and there aren't enough horses. Monkeys like me are an accidental target, we are too fast and agile for them most of the time.
Down in the greenhouse I noticed a little trickle of blood running down a pot, but it turned out to be Philesia magellanica. I wasn't expecting it and hadn't looked but I was still a bit twitchy so I suppose it stood out. It comes from southern Chile and adjacent Argentina and although it is hardy here, it doesn't thrive outside, or at least it didn't last time I tried. It is probably time to try again. It does well just inside the door of the greenhouse where the lowest temperatures are comparable to those outside but it does get much warmer in the summer, and I think that might make all the difference. I have a little nook on the east wall of the house that might be a good location for a second attempt.


30th July 2017

Zephyranthes 'Java'
I have a Nerine house that is a precious den of delight through the days of autumn. As the darkness and the nights close in the Nerine shine like the 1960's. I retreat into their fluorescent arms for comfort. Well, mostly Nerine, I can't resist a few other things. I want them, but I don't want them there and there is nowhere else. It's a dilemma.
I am being sensible. I am deciding on a few things I really can't live without and parting with the things that are just filling space. I had an insane passion for Habranthus and Zephyranthes a decade ago but ardour cools like coffee when you're working. Sometimes ardour cools over coffee but that's another thing altogether.
Briefly, the outcome has been that I have discarded all the dull species and all the pots that had been invaded by Habranthus tubispathus seedlings (most of them). I have kept a dozen or so pots in "quarantine". If they flower true to name they can stay. Most have flowered as H. tubispathus and they have been put (thrown) into the garden.
I don't think I would be able to replace 'Java' and when I checked the pot I still had what looked like the original bulb exactly in the middle. So I have been waiting for a flower and here it is. Raised by Fadjar Marta in Indonesia it is said to have peach coloured flowers and offset well. Neither happened here. The flower that has finally opened is yellow, perhaps the real thing in a colder climate than it likes, perhaps an impostor. I'm not sure. It gets a temporary reprieve.


30th July 2017

Agapanthus 'Indigo Dreams'
Blue Agapanthus are wonderful. I have just visited a garden where the many shades were plastered over a slope in a magnificent spectacle. Blue is such a rare colour in flowers, and plants that will produce a mass of the colour rarer still, I find it curious that it is the purple ones that I get excited about. Just perverse I guess, and that's not news.
'Indigo Dreams' stands out among my random collection of plants. I should really only grow those that are completely deciduous. They would fit easily into the garden but somehow I have acquired a mixed group, a bit of this and that. It all needs editing, and I'm not very good at that. I should throw Zephyranthes 'Java' out. Even if it is true to name, it isn't very good. I didn't think I would find that conclusion by looking into a dark Agapanthus.
Raised by Dick Fulcher in Devon it is the darkest form I have seen with a typically shaped head of flowers (rather than the dangling droplets of A. inapertus). Quite small growing, it has performed very well so far in the trial of Agapanthus at Wisley. I have a large tub in the middle of the herbaceous border where I think it should do well.



30th July 2017

Hydrangea macrophylla double blue
Sometimes wonderful things happen in the garden by accident despite my best intentions. I have been gathering together Hydrangeas as they have caught my eye, with a particular interest in those that will produce pure blue flowers in my soil. I have grown a number that are good but the best of them has been this low growing double. It grows at the back of the herbaceous border and gets the morning sun but a bit of shade by mid-afternoon.
I bought it as a flowering pot plant in a garden centre, along with matching pink and white forms. It is the blue one that has been outstanding to the extent that I don't know, or really care, where the other two are. There aren't all that many double flowered mop-heads on the market at present, so I think this is probably the blue selection from the You and Me series called 'Together Blue'. When I got it the label said 'Midi' but I think that was a Dutch description of the production size (single cutting in a 12cm dwarf pot).
Throughout the week the sky has been magnificent with great banks of dark cloud and theatrical shafts of bright light breaking through. Perfect conditions to show off these thundery colours which have brough a sense of drama back into the cooling garden after the hot, flat exhaustion of the start of the month.