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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


9th June 2019

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp. niphophila .
It rained. It rained and rained and rained and rained. Donald Trump visited the Queen, Theresa May stood down and did I mention that it rained? There has really only been one story in the garden this week. It rained.
It is all about gravity really. Eventually the Earth will spiral into the sun and be destroyed. I hope it doesn't catch anybody unawares, that would be unfortunate. As we get closer, the rate of rotation around the sun, will increase, the frictional heating of the Earth's molten core will increase and the extra heat will rise through the solid shell heating it and driving out the water until the surface layers are little more than dust. When I dug into the ground last week I could see the process in action, the dust layer had reached right up to the roots of the grass.
There are simpler explanations.
Whatever the cause of the dry soil, it rained and the garden slumped with relief. I hadn't noticed the tension out there until it was released. The rain was followed by a spell of windy weather. The ominous heat shimmer that has lurked over my neighbour's field has vanished. I looked up into the trees and Eucalyptus pauciflora was in flower. I think it is still responding to last summer's warmth, I have never seen it flower so freely, or so close to the ground. My sprawling Actinidia, which is flowering this year for the first time, can almost reach into the lower branches. That will be an interesting contest.
The Eucalyptus was planted as E. p. ssp. niphophila but it has grown too large, I think it is just E. pauciflora.


9th June 2019

Bomarea salsilla
I'm not worried by the size of the Eucalyptus. The ultimate fate of every large gum tree is to fall over. Like the slow spiral of the Earth into the sun, its inevitability takes the sting out of events. One day the Eucalyptus will fall over and probably crush something important. Accidents happen, it's surprisingly pleasant sometimes. It releases us from the obligations of control. I burnt a garden shed down last week by accident (whoops). No harm done, the space without the shed is a hundred times better than the shed ever was.
Perhaps that explains my delight in Bomarea salsilla. I have a few large orange Bomarea. Every year I wrap the sheaves of flexuous stems up the supports of the Agave house and every year they reach the roof and burst into disorganised flower. I would never have thought to plant B. salsilla and I would always have associated the genus with the annual effort of teaching a giant squid to become a pole dancer.
A friend brough me a pot of seedlings. I planted them under a tree peony and barely notice them until the clusters of pink flowers peek out among the peony leaves. This year I noticed the slender stems twining out of the soil. I nearly bent down to 'help' them climb the peony stems but I held back. It is an accident. That has always been the pleasure of it.


9th June 2019

Calycanthus chinensis .
Calycanthus have an accidental history in the garden as well. I first saw Calycanthus chinensis in a nursery in the 1980's, a couple of years after its introduction from China. I immediately wanted one, but I also wanted to eat for the rest of the week and inevitably the stomach won. I took some consolation from the number of plants available. It was clearly not a troublesome plant to propagate, I was certain that I would get a second chance. Shortly afterwards I was given a seedling and it has delighted me ever since. It should be in the garden really but somehow it has never quite escaped from the greenhouse where it enjoys the summer heat and flowers spectacularly as a consequence. If it is easy to propagate then I will plant a few out and see if they still flower as freely.
Calycanthus floridus glaucus arrived in the garden shortly afterwards, autumnal victim of a garden centre's overstocking (1.50). I would quite like to grow the hybrid between them as well but going out and buying it deliberately seems like a betrayal of the fates. It will take me a couple of years to get the parents into the garden so there is no rush. Both of them have flowered freely this year, possibly another consequence of last summer's warmth. As the first flower opened on Calycanthus chinensis I went down to the greenhouse to create the hybrid myself. Unfortunately the last flower of C. floridus had wilted beyond use, petals limp, pollen shed. Perhaps next year.



9th June 2019

Pinguicula lusitanica .
It has been a week for the release of unnoticed tensions. The rain came and the Disa flowered. I have been waiting for them through the months of greenery with a child's disbelief that Christmas will ever come. Even the appearance of the first spikes in the centre of the rosettes seems like a fraud. A promise rather than the fulfillment of a promise, a horticultural IOU. The rain has cheered them up, the water tanks have been refreshed and there is a sprinkling of pink among the plants.
There is a dark corner at one end of the bench, too gloomy for the Disa, where I grow the Pinguicula. Like all manifestations of chaos in the greenhouse, it started out as a good idea. Collect together all of the seedlings scattered in other places, identify them, get it all sorted out. It hasn't really worked out like that, things never do. They have continued to seed about, I still don't know what to make of the variability. The good thing is that amongst them I also get seedlings of P. lusitanica. It is probably an annual, occasional plants survive for a second year but if it weren't for unexpected seedlings I would have lost it years ago. A tiny little thing among the moss, it had almost finished flowering by the time I noticed it. As accident prone as the Eucalyptus in many ways, surviving the years by chance.
Less likely to crush things as it goes.