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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


1st October 2017

Nerine humilis
Something about the change of seasons leaves me flustered. I think it is the erratic weather. We have had some wonderful days when I have done dutiful jobs, just in case it's the only chance I get. We have had some horrible weather when I sit indoors and sulk about the lovely things I can't do. I nearly went to an Orchid show yesterday but didn't because there were jobs I wanted to get done while there is still some warmth. It rained all afternoon so in the end I didn't go out and I didn't get anything done. Flustering weather!
I did have a chance to look through the Nerine which is always a pleasure. Plenty of new seedlings producing flower spikes for the first time and a couple of old questions have started to resolve.
This plant, for example, troubled me last year. It came to me as N. peersii (now included in N. humilis). It had been grown from seed and clearly the bees had visited the flower. This pale orange colour is well outside the colour range of N. humilis although the flower shape is right. The other parent can only be N. sarniensis and since the seed was produced in cultivation in the UK in a large collection of cultivars that seems quite reasonable.
This year the clump has produced a pale pink flowered spike as well so it is a clump of seedlings. When there is some space I will split the pot up and sort out what I have.


1st October 2017

Colchicum autumnale 'Alboplenum'
I have been finding excuses to go to the top of the garden and look for the Colchicum. A few ghostly noses have poked through the soil, and a few have been nibbled by rabbits. They should be very poorly rabbits by now, Colchicum take their toxicity very seriously.
Nothing worth photographing yet - I am determined not to take any pictures until they are beautiful. I am happy to see that they have survived well enough to flower this year but I am waiting for more. Last year they were still in flower in November, so there is still plenty of time.
On the way back I passed C. autumnale 'Alboplenum. I tucked the bulb into a corner a few years ago and if it could be removed easily it would be under the trees with the rest by now. As it is, I appreciated the show it was managing. The double flowers are ragged and lack the (occasional) perfection of 'Waterlily' but they also have shorter stems and stand up better.
The cluster of flowers is the antithesis of an arrangement but it has the joy of exploding party streamers, more delightful because we all know the moment passes and the morning after will come.


1st October 2017

Galanthus peshmenii
Spring will come as well. As the days shorten it is easy to look around for the gloomy things and worry about sweeping the chimney. Spring is hurrying towards us and the first snowdrop is very welcome. The first tip of a bud was just about visible last week but this week there are several flowers and many more to come. I am trying to collect together some autumn snowdrops because they are so refreshing as the season grows old and blowsy. Dahlias are still looking good and there are snowdrops, it's delightful.
The autumn forms of G. reginae-olgae are also coming up, and G. peshmenii was originally thought to be a Turkish poplulation of that species, but they are quite different. G. peshmenii has stubby rounded flowers (in all the forms I have seen) and a small round ovary that sits like a droplet at the base of the flower. G. reginae-olgae is longer and thinner. The ovary merges smoothly into the base of the corolla.
Last year I sowed a lot of seed from these plants and now I am looking at the pots, hoping for the first signs of life. There shouldn't be much to see until the spring but I can't help looking. I'm not expecting to see much variability but at the moment I would be happy to see anything.



1st October 2017

Nerine 'Bulawayo'
There has also been a change among the Nerine. Last week I had a few early spikes open and plenty of buds showing. This week the greenhouse is bright with the flowers. If I was more organised I would know by now what I wanted to pollinate but I haven't had time to think about it. Once more I want to try some crosses between N. sarniensis and the other species. For a year or two I have been crossing it with N. pudica hoping for hybrids with broader, flatter petals. Not because I think that is a good thing, just because I can. Walking through the greenhouse I saw a pot of seedlings flowering for the first time and they were this hybrid. I have been doing it for longer than I thought.
'Bulawayo' represents another perennial fixation, N. sarniensis cultivars with purple flowers. I have a dozen or so and every year I raise pots of seedlings from them, the first of them are yet to flower. Perhaps when I have more I will lose interest (or perhaps not).
'Bulawayo' was raised at Exbury, one of the new generation of seedlings raised since the collection returned from Sir Peter Smithers. Wonderful rich, deep colour.
Next week the combination of autumn and spring will continue. By the end of this month I will be hoping that we can miss out on winter altogether.