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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


2nd December 2018

Galanthus elwesii 'Hiemalis' .
After a shot of cold weather the clouds have rolled in again and the temperature has popped up. Misty in the morning, misty in the evening and raining in between. I have been watching it from the house, wriggling with anticipation to get out there. The greenhouse roof is secure but I wanted to replace the fixings with stainless steel ones to ensure their longevity. The last few went in yesterday afternoon as the cloud wearied of levitation and turned to drizzle. I finished and climbed down the ladder for the last time with a feeling that approached giddy delight. A lovely job for a sunny summer evening with a light breeze and a great view. Not so lovely with the cold rain collecting in all the nooks and crannies and running and dripping across the roof.
With the mist has come the warmth and with the warmth the snowdrops have opened up. There are a number of early winter flowering forms of Galanthus elwesii and they get bundled together as the Hiemalis Group. Mine arrived before they had become a group and were still soloists so I retain the name as a cultivar. It has enjoyed the last few years in the open after a decade or so of woodland sulkiness. I have a tiny little clump now, not enough to describe as a bold splash but more than a bulb. The first flowering date has veen very erratic over the years and I have no idea what triggers it but an appearance in early winter is very welcome.


2nd December 2018

Camellia brevistyla .
I lose track of the time. It's not just the time to be honest, I bought a new pair of secateurs a month ago and I can't remember where I put them. I know they're safe, I just can't think where. I didn't need them at the time, I do now. It is frustrating. Losing track of time is more convenient. Some time ago I was given a handful of Camellia seed - "you don't grow this one do you? It's rather lovely." I would have preferred a rooted cutting, I'm not a patient person. The seed was stratified and sown and up they came. After a year I had a tray of little plants that were already rather lovely. Time passes, the pots get larger and larger. I have parted with a few but there are still a handful growing on. At about ten years old the first one has flowered and it is as delighful as I had hoped.
By now I know the parent plant quite well and was a little worried that the seedlings might be hybrids so this tiny white lopsided flower is very reassuring. Now that I am sure I have a seedling of the species I would quite like some coloured hybrids among the rest. Just fickle I suppose, I don't think I am going to get them but no harm in hoping.


2nd December 2018

Narcissus romieuxii 'Sunray' .
One of the distractions of roofing the greenhouse is peering down at the benches below and getting a close look at what is going on. Winter arrives more slowly under cover and the sense of autumn's decay and collapse has been a sombre compliment to the dull weather. As the roof was replaced the temperature in the greenhouse started to go up a bit. It wasn't any nicer on top, but under the roof things slowly dried out and although autumn has been slow to relinquish its grip on the calendar, spring has been fast off the blocks. The various forms of N. romieuxii stand on a bench at the bottom of the greenhouse to protect them from the ravaging weather. The species is hardy, it probably even prefers winter rain but the flowers are as fragile as they look and don't stand up for long outside. As it happens, they don't last long in the greenhouse either. The day after I photographed this one a tiny slug finished it off but it dosn't matter, there are plenty more buds.
The species comes from Morocco and there are numerous varieties, forms and cultivars that are sometimes difficult to distinguish reliably. This one came to me as 'Sunray' but the name seems to have disappeared from the internet without trace. It has flowered early and it has a name on the label. Both may be down to chance rather than anything else.



2nd December 2018

Helleborus x hybridus 'Early Purple' .
I am eyeing the Hellebore bed with interest. It had reached the point when it looked organised for the first months of the year and then tumbled into naturalism. I didn't really mind but I don't think the seedlings were getting a chance. I wanted them to spread without too much effort on my part, and they showed willing but then got swamped. In August I decided that things had to change, either it got better or it would get worse, so I mowed the leaves off and killed off the regrowth of perennial weeds. I am hoping that I didn't kill the Hellebores. If I did, I think it is going to become a snowdrop border! At present I have a few new shoots showing, December and January are going to be interesting.
Safe from all this I have a few special clones still in pots (too lazy to push them up the hill and plant them). The first of them is 'Early Purple', the bud was unexpected and it has developed rapidly through the week. The garden is filled with little spring details beneath the clammy autumn leaves.
It has been a strange year, we have already had enough frost to push things into dormancy. It has saved the weeks of worrying that something might have been forgotten. A few things have been slipped into the greenhouse, a few things in the greenhouse will be slipped indoors for a couple of months. Mostly the garden has put itself to bed. I have been yawning my way through the short days, I'm going to follow it.