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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


7th October 2018

Nerine sarniensis .
The week has been autumnal. Everywhere I go I see gardens rolling in windfall apples. The first signs of autumn colour are appearing and early indications are that it will be a bright year. The long hot spell through summer will have helped, if the autumn remains cool and clear we may yet "feel the burn". I have a Liquidambar that has abandoned green in favour of dark purple. Bright, still weather will promote a transition to scarlet, high winds will simply strip the leaves. In the last two weeks I have felled some conifers around it so it is more exposed than it has ever been. I am hoping that extra light will improve the colour and that the extra air will be slow moving.
No problem with scarlet colours among the Nerine. It is looking like a very good year for them. Perhaps they have enjoyed the hot summer, perhaps they are just more established in their pots , but they are going to be bright. Cool weather will keep them going for longer and with a bit of luck I will still have some scraps of colour into the New Year.
N. sarniensis comes in a wide range of colours and I have a lot. I am getting short of space so I am determined not to do any more hybridising this year. I have pots of seedlings scattered in every nook and cranny waiting to be potted on and I should sort that mess out before I make another. I am equally determined not to get any more cultivars but I still had four with me when I returned from a visit to the National Collection yesterday. So much for determination.
In my defense, one of them was a wild type N. sarniensis raised from seed from a known location. Not really an extra cultivar, more a foundation stone for the collection.


7th October 2018

Grevillea victoriae .
The garden is dominated by bulbs that spring unexpectedly from the ground. I have been weeding the snowdrop beds, knowing that at any moment the new shoots of the earliest cultivars will be appearing. I would like to get it done before there is a risk of damaging them in the process. I went over it once in August but it is amazing how much the weeds have grown since then. Colchicum are filling the woodland and the greenhouse if full of Nerine, there are bulbs everywhere. It is almost a surprise to find that there are shrubs still performing.
In the early days of the Agave house, when there was still some space to fill, I planted Grevillea victoriae in a big pot. After a few years it had to come out and I was convinced that it would die. Grevillea aren't well known for their tolerance of root disturbance, and this one had rooted through into the soil with enthusiasm. I left it outside in the sun, expecting it to curl up and die but it surprised me by rooting out again and now I have a cascade of orange flowers.
It isn't growing in the best place, I just tucked it away as far as I could be bothered to carry it, but it has settled. This year has been the best display I can remember and it is adding a sense of solid reliability to the bulbous fluff. Can fluff be bulbous? No matter.


7th October 2018

Hedychium gardnerianum 'Kenneggy'.
Timidity in the garden is like virginity, it doesn't come back. I have been a timid Hedychium planter, frightened to lose cultivars in the garden. I have had to learn slowly, and with much anxious wailing, that I should be bolder. The plants are happier outside, and I am happier with them out there.
This tiny form of H. gardnerianum was a particular worry, the diminutive stature is almost unique in a genus of giants. I was so worried that I went and bought a second one before I planted it out. One for me, one for the frost to kill.
I was wrong to be worried, it sailed through the cold spring weather and has managed to flower. Raised by Stephen Mules at Lower Kenneggy Nursery it is an astonishing dwarf. The stems grow to about 30cm tall and then the flower spike sits on top. It isn't as strongly scented as the taller form but it is much cuter.
The evenings are drawing in or I would have a few more planted out by now. By the time I get in at night it is getting too dark to fuss with Hedychium but they must go out, whatever it takes. A mild winter would be helpfull but I am no longer timid. I am almost ruthless.


7th October 2018

Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Uranium'.
It is lovely to have snowdrops about the place, even if I can get a little carried away at times. Last year I decided that I had enough spring flowering snowdrops for the time being, and the only plants I bought were autumn flowering. 'Uranium' was one of them. The insane reasoning goes like this. I'm not going to buy very many, so I can afford to pay more for them. Doesn't that sound completely sensible? Certainly does to me. 'Uranium' arrived on the tail of that reasoning. It is supposed to have a pale yellowish glow to the outer tepals and I wasn't convinced but I was prepared to give it a try. I spent the summer looking at a pot in the greenhouse knowing that when nothing came up it would be fairly easy to throw away in the spring. One quick tip on the compost and we never need to think about it again. That is how much confidence I have in autumn snowdrops.
I was wrong, it is up again and producing five flowers from the bulb which is almost unseemly fecundity. It has the promised yellowish glow to the outer tepals (though it is almost impossible to catch in a picture). All in all, I am glad I bought it. I have my eye set on 'Pink Panther' this year. I chickened out last year and now I am worried that I won't get another chance. I have joined the drooling frantic masses, it is a little tragic. I'm going to check on e-bay for some elbow spikes to wear to the spring sales.
Snowdrops have their own fascination. Everybody gets it, but not eveybody admits to it. To paraphrase Wednesday Addams, "I pity them"!