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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


15th October 2017

Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola' .
Temperatures had started to fall and the veil of condensation inside the greenhouse was getting thicker every morning. I have started to find slugs inside the house again. They invade for a week or two in October once there is a thin film of condensation on the paint and before I switch the heating on. I was looking forward to sweeping the chimney and lighting the fire. Suddenly the temperature has gone up again and autumn starts to look more like a season and less like an extended buffer for the cold.
I am fixing some benching in the greenhouse, ready for the winter influx of feeble foliage and turned around to find Nymphaea 'Pygmaea Helvola' flowering its heart out beside me. It's a very small plant. Two flowers is probably a heartful.
One at a time has been the previous maximum so this was a special moment. I would like to say it was a special location as well, but unfortunately all of the bench building paraphernalia was stacked around it and it's growing in a big bucket. All of that has been edited out of the picture. You can hardly see that the picture was taken as the last evening light faded or that an hour later the flowers closed for good. This was it, and if the picture looks a little bit too perfect, so was the moment.
I'm careful not to disturb the water, I don't want to know what there is down there. Dragons would be fun, Dragon-flies are more likely and the truth is probably unspeakable.


15th October 2017

Cyclamen hederifolium 'Red Sky'.
Dogs are domesticated. Cats are domestic and goldfish are still basically wild. There is a spectrum of domestication found among the organisms in the environment around us. I can't call it "our" environment because the mice and horse-flies and stinging nettles outnumber us. If you believe in democracy we are really just a crop being farmed by rats.
On the spectrum of domestication Cyclamen hederifolium comes somewhere between cats and hamsters. It grows among us, and has made some modifications to fit in, but it would do perfectly well without us if required. We are like paypal to Cyclamen. We make things easier but they wouldn't really suffer without us.
Cyclamen hederifolium has found that its population increases the more variety it shows, and along came these deep red forms ("horticultural red" of course which is like "horticultural blue", no artist or paint maker would recognise the colour).
I have long wondered where the colour came from. 'Red Sky' suddenly appeared on the market fully formed, there didn't seem to be a long history of selection for darker forms as might be expected. On Wednesday I was shown some plants of 'Cretan Red' in exactly this colour, which suggests it was a wild discovery. A quick internet search revealed nothing at all but perhaps I have the spelling wrong. 'Cretin Red' would be a fair comment on the colour.


15th October 2017

Camellia sasanqua 'Hugh Evans'.
I don't really know what diversity is. I think it is a dance troup but its other meanings seem to change according to the time and place. That is unfortunate because some years ago I decided that it was good. More accurately I decided that it defined good and contrariwise that things tending to restrict or reduce diversity were inherently bad, as a matter of definition. I haven't quite reconciled that with the idea of democracy, where the greatest uniformity confers the greatest power but perhaps it just means that political power is a bad thing by definition. I could live with that, not that it matters, it's a rats world.
Diversity throws up the unexpeted and that is a very good thing. I came around a corner and there was 'Hugh Evans'. The Camellia season has started and it turns out that I am delighted at the thought. Even the ugly ones are welcome though I will have a good laugh at their expense when they appear. It's like watching a small child walk into a table. I will laugh but it isn't meant unkindly.
'Hugh Evans' has the delicious pink of a remembered blancmange or a sofistikated fondant fancy. My local bakery produces them 12cm square so they don't look too prissy. I'm sure that if they thought about it they would wrap them in pastry and call them French Fancy Pasties.
That would be good thing. It would certainly be a unexpected.



15th October 2017

Nerine 'Mr John' .
I had swept Nerine 'Mr John' under the mental carpet. It took me by storm when it was introduced and like the Bastille, I'm not easily stormed. It was the deepest pink of any hardy Nerine and the most distinctive form of N. undulata to be introduced. N. bowdenii 'Isabelle' approaches it in colour but doesn't get very close. Unfortunately it isn't. It isn't N.undulata and it isn't hardy. Disappoint me once, shame on you; disappoint me twice and you'll be swept under the mental carpet.
Times change, I have just seen it surviving (barely) in the trial of hardy Nerine (so it isn't impossibly tender, I have forgiven worse) and the colour is good. I assume the colour comes from N. sarniensis and that it is part of the rather vague Mansellii Group.
Whatever that facts of its heritage, and I can't see the breeder letting on, it is a good thing. Now the only obstacle is that all commercial stocks seem to be infected with virus.
Perhaps the reality is that the world belongs to viruses and I am grateful for the delight I get from their beautiful homes. Eviction seems unlikely.
I had swept it under the mental carpet but I was careful not to tread on the lump. I will fish it out again eventually.