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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


26th November 2017

Galanthus 'Three Ships'.
There are very few rights and wrongs in gardening. Plants adapt, gardeners speak softly from the sidelines and offer guidance. Speak soft guidance and carry a big stick. With winter looming I was all set to collect up some tender things and bring them under cover, when it started to rain. Vindictive, ear stinging rain that soaks your head and shoulders and then drains down the inside to your socks. I'm having none of that. I came back indoors and lit the fire, there's always another day. Very few rights and wrongs, but plenty of stupids to avoid.
Winter, if it comes, will explode in chaos like a child sitting on a balloon. It is being pressed from both sides. Autumn is still pumping away, the siren scent of Hedychium slips through the greenhouse door as I pass coaxing me away from winter diligence. Thin fingers of spring are clutching at the garden.
Last week I was worried about Galanthus 'Three Ships'. It should be in flower for Christmas. I made a special trip up to the border to look for it. Not a sign, not a single nose cracking through the earth. I brushed away some fallen leaves to be quite certain. I dug it up last year and gave a few away, I was worried I had upset it. There is something about the late autumn, the early spring or the pressurised space between them. It has exploded from the ground and into flower in a single movement. This is three weeks earlier than I would expect it and I am showing it now to get it out of the way. All the classic delights of mid-winter have flowered already, by the time I get to January there will be nothing to show but a desert of snowdrops. This is a foretaste, while there is still some colour in the garden.


26th November 2017

Fatsia japonica 'Annelise'.
I like Fatsia japonica, it is unabashed. I don't love it with the simpering desperation that the elderly reserve for their cats, this is more of a constant warm memory. This is like sitting in the only comfortable sofa you have ever owned and disregarding its occasional tatty decline. This is the one, the only sofa you will ever feel relaxed in when you fart. So I like Fatsia japonica and it is a pleasure to discover that the various cultivars available are also homely.
I remember a very similar plant from the 1970's though it wasn't called 'Annelise' back then. Propagated by cuttings, it was a rare thing to encounter for all its hardy good looks. As technology developed it has become widely available, I assume through the wonders of micropropagation. Perhaps that is where a new cultivar cropped up, although it seems unlikely. The species is generally grown from seed, it is quick, easy and cheap. Somewhere along the way it has become easily available and sprouted a new name.
I thought that it might get a bit ragged in the garden or that the leaves might burn, but it has been as resilient as the green form. After a couple of years it is flowering well and the effect is better because it is more compact. This isn't really new, it is re-upholstered.


26th November 2017

Crocus speciosus .
I had a pot of Crocus speciosus in the greenhouse. The flowers are cheering in early autumn, they bring the promise that the season won't be so bad. The dark shadows lengthening over the days of dreamy dahlias have a bright heart. I like Crocus speciosus but it doesn't really like me. It is found in Greece, Northern Turkey and Iran where the fragile flowers push up through stony ground long before the leaves appear. In a dry climate they stand up well, but with me a single raindrop will knock them over. Perhaps in my moist soil they are also a bit too lush for their own good. They stand for an hour or two on the first day, and then they fall. I have given up on them outside. In the greenhouse they flower well in the first year but slowly fade away. I had a pot and it produced a flower this year, but I threw them away. Part of a new determination not to waste space on things as they slide away towards oblivion.
Out in the meadow there was a shocking surprise. A single Crocus flower. I remember planting them, I had a wild idea that the grass roots might keep the soil dry enough for them. I had tried the same trick with Anemone pavonina and that didn't work either. I didn't get any flowers at all, I didn't see any leaves. I assumed the mice had eaten them. This flower came as a shock. No, that can't be a Crocus. I suppose that if I'm going to have hallucinations I would rather see autumn Crocus than werewolves.
It turns out I planted them in 2005.
The following day the fragile flower had gone, maybe helped on its way by a rabbit. Perhaps it flowers every year for a day and I have just been missing it? When I put them in I would have hoped for a carpet of lilac a decade later and it hasn't happened. I won't be planting any more out there.


26th November 2017

Camellia 'Show Girl' .
So the strange season continues. I looked up and saw the soft pink of 'Show Girl' in the distance. Part of me hoped that it was just wind blown refuse caught in the branches but I didn't really believe it. One of the pleasures of the Christmas season is wandering around the garden looking for Show Girls. This year they are here already. I thought a single bud had burst early, unable to stand the excitement of waiting for Santa but I was wrong again. As I got closer the bush was spangled with occasional flowers. It has decided that the time has come. If all of the Camellias flower a month early I may use my Christmas wanderings to locate 'Drama Girl' instead.
I can see through the window that the rain has stopped. All of the Aspidistra went outside in the spring but one or two are coming back in for winter. It will only be a few, those things that I would really miss if a winter freeze killed them. Some of the Vietnamese species didn't get very far from the greenhouse door in the first place so they will come inside for another year. I will take small divisions from some of those I planted out but only a few. The ground will be too wet for trudging back and forward (and I would rather sit by the fire anyway).