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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


28th April 2019

Magnolia wilsonii .
It has been a very convenient week in terms of weather. Temperatures have fallen back to the seasonal norm, even plunging below it on one delicious night. I wrapped myself in a duvet and slept the whole night with just my nose showing like some giant, hairless dormouse. Bliss. Rain has arrived to fill the water tanks and it is a great relief. Almost as importantly, I has arrived when I haven't been outside standing in it. I had started to worry about a shortage of water, the Sarracenia have just started to flower, but then I remembered that I always worry at this time of the year. I can always top up the tanks if needed, the Sarracenia get very thirsty as the new seasons leaves expand. It has been a very convenient week.
At least it has been convenient until the wind arrived. It didn't last long and it wasn't very damaging. The tail end of a tropical storm clipped the county. It didn't damage the greenhouse, it didn't tear down branches but it did knock the buds from Magnolia wilsonii. I found them the next morning rolling about on the floor like strange eggs. I gathered them together into a pile and felt like a giant broody chicken for a moment. I took the picture and moved on.


28th April 2019

Paeonia x smouthii
I have been watching the developing flower stems of Paeonia mascula as the sprang from the ground. I have never seen it looking so sturdy. It is a reminder to me to feed it before it starts to go backwards. It was on the point of bursting when the wind arrived and scattered the petals. Just a single late bud remains. I'm hoping for a perfect sunny morning next week to enjoy it properly. Nothing for it but to run and hide in the greenhouse.
This could easily be Paeonia x smouthii. Many years ago I was dazzled by the flowering of P. tenuifolia in the rock garden at Kew. It went straight onto the list of things to try at the earliest opportunity. The earliest opportunity arrived and I took it. The deeply cut leaves were a little broader than I remembered but I'm generally an optimist. More to the point, I was deeply in lust with it and happy to overlook the little issues. I am still happy to overlook the little issues, it is a gorgeous thing, but it isn't P. tenuifolia. In all probability it is P x smouthii, the hybrid between P. tenuifolia and P. lactiflora. The P. tenuifolia parentage seems clear, the second parent is a best guess. P. lactiflora is quite likely, the hybrid is well known (I've never met it anywhere, but apparently it is well known). If it isn't P. lactiflora then the smart money is on it being something else!
Take your pick.


28th April 2019

Tropaeolum tricolor .
"Woke up this mornin". Isn't that how the blues always start? "Had to get my plants to the Orchid Show by 8.00." I don't think I have a future as a songwriter. Astonishingly there are some Pleione hanging on. A hot week would have finished them but overcast skies and a cool breeze have preserved them. Judging first thing this morning, they might well have gone over by this afternoon they are so close to collapse. I'm not going to hang around and watch it happen.
Tropaeolum tricolor has been as tenacious in the garden. I can't remember when I planted it. I had it in a pot in the greenhouse for a few years but it was always a disappointment. I only had to forget to water it once and the season would be over. It responds to drought while in growth by dying back immediately to the tuber and waiting for next year. I planted it out in the garden and prompty forgot it. It is a Chilean species, pollinated by the Green-backed Firecrown Hummingbird. I don't have one of those but I was told that it hybridises easily and an assortment of colours and indeed sizes, would be interesting. I might have to find a small tuber to bring indoors again.



28th April 2019

Erythronium 'Pagoda' .
Last week I was worried that I had lost the seasons flower on Erythronium 'Pagoda'. I was being stoic about it. If my woodland carpet of yellow pixie hats was perfect every year it would be tiresome. Like the thuggish bluebells that grow among them, familiarity would breed comtempt. I would start to take them for granted. Much better that they are caught by the weather from time to time. It reminds me that they are precious. This year a couple of very hot weeks burnt the flowers from most of the others and my woodland planting on 'Pagoda' looked frazzled. I was being stoic.
A timely drop of rain and some cool days have refreshed them. The first buds on the flower spikes may have wilted but the subsequent ones are fine. Every time I see them I wonder why I have a garden full of little bits and pieces. Why don't I just plant things in great sweeps of colour. These have been in the ground for a few years now, but I still remember the hard labour of planting them through a couple of hot August days, watering them in with my sweat. They are wonderful, I'm glad I have them and I remember the effort it took. The bluebells are much easier, I scattered the seed and they did the rest themselves. In many parts of the garden I didn't even have to scatter the seed. They perform every year, are totally reliable and take no work. Familiarity breeds contempt.
No it doesn't, they are wonderful. So are the Erythronium. Bugger stoic.