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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


2nd September 2018

Cyclamen hederifolium .
The wan colours of autumn have drifted into the garden with the mist. It has been overcast for most of the week but it hasn't rained, it has misted. Like some bizarre rehydration treatment for dry skin, the mist left a deposit in every tired nook and cranny. It marks a change to autumn though there are other easier measures. I went out in the daytime yesterday and I drove through the town - now I don't do that in the summer, the traffic can be (what is the polite term for it) challenging.
In the first days of summer the roads fill with cars of smiling faces sweltering under the inadequate shade of their roof-top boxes. Things have changed. The last full week of the school holidays has been overcast and the road out of the county is filled with the sad faces of the wet-weeklings, now sheltering from the chill under their roof-top boxes. Do I sound like a smug bumpkin? Good.
Cyclamen have changed as well. I crow with startled defiance about the first Cyclamen of August like a nervous rooster with pot-premonition. The first flowers look a bit feeble but they are a slap in the face for summer. By September the display has thickened up and is making a show under the trees. I am envious of the dense carpets of flowers that some people manage. If I could do that I would show it. If I thinned the canopy above them and removed the ivy they might grow more strongly, or I could accept the random spottiness and call it naturalistic.
I can't see me thinning the canopy so I have an answer.


2nd September 2018

Impatiens glandulifera .
I went out into the greenhouse this morning and as soon as I went through the door the camera misted up. There was a chill in the morning but the greenhouse was warm. I have accepted that the difficulty of the heat has passed, now there is only the difficulty of the cold to prepared for.
The cold weather in March killed a lot of seedlings of Impatiens glandulifera, populations around the county have been decimated (approximately). It had established on a small plot of land (not mine) opposite the house. A single seedling arrived a few years ago and I meant to remove it but didn't get there in time. Slowly it has taken over the available space.
This year there only seemed to be a handful of seedlings so I went over to pull them out, a rare opportunity to exterminate it completely. I had underestimated the survival rate, there were hundreds. I have admitted defeat. If it appears on my side of the road it will be pulled out but it hasn't made it yet - I thought.
In the top of the garden, beside the bonfire, this single seedling has flowered. I can't imagine how it got there. If it relied on the explosive seed pods then there have been some dangerous missiles whizzing around, it is a hundred yards uphill from the closest population. I have one or two invasive weeds in the garden and I don't want any more. This was a pretty seedling, an unexpected seedling and now a dead seedling. If I am going to have to put up with new weeds, growing next to the bonfire is quite convenient!


2nd September 2018

Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Atrosanguineum'.
With the mist bearing down on me like a damp duvet yesterday I headed out. I could have spent the day failing to do anything useful in the garden but it would have been miserable. Apple trees (other peoples) are full of apples, it's as autumnal as the crunch of fallen leaves. I took myself out on a teacake tour of the county. A gentle circular tour, stopping at every nursery or garden centre that could serve a toasted teacake as well as a few that couldn't. I didn't really want anything but it was nice to get out. It was also nice to get back, and I don't care if I never see another teacake but I had fun, which didn't look likely at home.
Perceptions change according to context. Is that just me or are we all insane? Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Atrosanguinea' brought the point home to me. It is a very old cultivar. I could research the details but I'm not going to, over the decades it will have seeded about enough times for the information to be meaningless. I think this is my original clone but it may be a later seedling. I have had it since 1983 and it is a good, solid, reliable thing. I am enjoying it in the herbaceous border midst the wreckage of change. It is looking noble.
I saw it for sale in a nursery yesterday, discounted to clear at the end of the year. Who's going to buy that old thing I thought, there are much better cultivars available.
Context.


2nd September 2018

Colchicum agrippinum .
I have a theory that weather forecasting can be replaced by a facebook app. People post the weather as it happens to them and you can look and see what is blowing your way for the next hour or two. It works on a grand scale, why wouldn't it work for the detail?
I have been clearing the ground to be ready for the Colchicum. It is going to be magnificent, all my hopes and dreams of a carpet of lilac will be realised this year. I'm certain of it. My crossed fingers are clenched with anticipation. They may still be dormant, but I know they are coming. I know it because I have seen pictures of flowers being posted from around the country, I can't be far behind.
Colchicum agrippinum is the first to emerge. I grow it among the snowdrops to warn me that it is too late to mess around with them any more. I still have some light weeding to do, but it won't disturb the soil. Only a matter of weeks now before the first shoots start to appear. I was in the middle of a nervous wobble in the Nerine house a fortnight ago when I checked the autumn snowdrops. Nothing showing. It was curiously reassuring. The same absence of activity from the Nerine was making me anxious. Have I killed them all, should I have watered more, or less, or stayed home and eaten fewer teacakes?
The Nerine are cranking slowly into life. The Colchicum are cranking slowly into life. They all look after themselves. I'm not going to need any lunch today.