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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


27th August 2017

Geranium 'Salome'
Torrential rain is such a familiar part of the holiday season that its subtler delights can be overlooked. The garden is fully hydrated, not a single droopy inclination to be seen. I was in Essex a couple of weeks ago and the hydrangeas had collapsed. No suggestion of that here. As life become more frantic through the summer (I don't know why, it just does) and the sleepy humidity starts to squash me suddenly the greenhouse needs less water. At its simplest level, the roof leaks like a sieve and a lot of things get watered, shall we call it "automatically". Also under the cloud cover phototranspiration is reduced.
This week the weather has brightened, and the greenhouse is still lurking in the moisture-shadow of last week. Time to do some serious sitting-out and reading books with no content.
It has been a week where motivation pauses. That is, I can't be arsed to think of a link to Geranium 'Salome'. No, got it. Geranium 'Salome' has been sitting around as well. I had it planted in the herbaceous border, which was always a mistake. It is a low spreading cultivar and I had to grow it in a little wire netting pen to keep the rabbits off. Last year I lifted it and planted it in a targe tub. The rabbits can trim the delightful trailing stems, but they can't get to the heart of the matter. The stems have even been delightful, and trailing. In the event they have trailed through the herbaceous border and like the parent, G. procurrens, they have rooted as they go.
Now I have the best of both worlds.


27th August 2017

Musa basjoo
I don't grow many palms in the garden. There are so few that are reliably hardy. There are many more that are unreliably hardy but in my experience they are unreliably attractive as a result. Once damaged, a palm takes an age to recover. I can't grow Phoenix canariensis here (or I couldn't last time I tried) but at least it has the decency to die outright.
Bananas are very similar. Only a few are hardy. Once again I have tried a number and found them lacking. When I decided to upscale the exotic visual impact of the non-woody planting zone (shove more large leaved plants in the herbaceous border) I was determined to add more Musa basjoo. It is the best of them. As with all my grand ideas, I was then given a plant of M. 'Tibet' (which is doing very nicely), and planted a dozen tree ferns in the spaces. There is a plan but I'm not entirely convinced it is mine.
"Matter, does it?" (which sounds like Yoda but is actually my neighbour). My clump of Musa basjoo has been magnificent as a backdrop to the border for a decade and inspired the failed attempt to plant more. It has emphasised its suitability by flowering for the first time. I had assumed that all M. basjoo were the same but now I'm not so sure. Mine has charming parchment flowers from parchment bracts. A flower arranger would be delighted, but stumped.
Just down the road a friend has one with primrose flowers and lustrous purple bracts.
Maybe I can squeeze in one more banana.


27th August 2017

Impatiens arguta
The genus Impatiens seems to have a species for every niche. Just one. When the rampagers of bedding needed something tough and reliable for shade, I. walleriana leapt to the fore and plastered the nations gardens with anti-subtlety. Downy mildew may have taken them off the agenda for a year or two, but they will return. Downy mildew was being spread on the seed, so now we clean the seed. (Endlessly resourceful those monkeys, don't you think?)
Opposite my house there is a small patch of unused land. No so long ago it was an allotment with a single plant of Impatiens glandulifera shining among the cabbages and the sex-charged frenzy of Cabbage Whites. Now it is pink with Policeman's Helmet. There is a species for every niche.
I was less convinced that there was a niche for every species. Impatiens arguta has lacked something, and mostly it has been vigour. The white form is amazing, forming a large mound of fragile improbability and flashing flowers from within, like a diamond studded petticoat or a pair of underpants with a witty slogan. The purple form isn't. It lies around in crumpled lumps, like a very old mattress or a lived-in face. I have been getting it wrong. At Rosemoor last week it cascaded from the walls of the underpass like a fountain of wine at an orgy, petticoats and underpants on show. There is a place, perhaps I need an underpass.
That isn't going to happen, I don't want the Policeman's Helmet coming through.



27th August 2017

Nerine masoniorum
Yesterday evening I faced the fact that another year had passed without action. It is a small thing, and probably pointless, but I want some Nerine masoniorum in small pots. I have been entertaining the idea of producing some small growing Nerine hybrids in assorted colours. Perhaps it is fairer to say that it has been entertaining me. The first step is to have some N. masoniorum to work with. I have several large tubs of it, but it would be impossible to emasculate single flowers among the mass and keep track of them. I need some plants in small pots. Still haven't done it. Perhaps this afternoon. It seems unlikely, the Nerine are right at the bottom of the garden, I will be distracted long before I get there.
It is the smallest growing of the species, clumps up easily and produces abundant, fast growing seed. In other words the perfect parent. Unfortunately in its South African homeland it is seriously endangered. There is a single location in the Eastern Cape where it was under threat from expanding settlements and agriculture. Some observers believe it is now extinct. There are rumours of a second site, just as there are rumours of aliens in Area 51. Credible sightings have yet to be reported.
Carpe Diem is the lesson. If I had siezed the moment, I would be pollinating away like a mad thing today. Instead, with the sun shining I am going out for tea.
Lesson learnt.