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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


7th July 2019

Camellia 'Glenn's Orbit' .
Another hot week in the garden, I seem to have spent all of my spare time watering in the greenhouse and barely keeping up with it. The water tanks, that had filled so wonderfully while I was away in Scotland, are running dry again. A deluge would be very welcome, and if the temperatures dropped a little that would make life a lot easier.
I remember a quiet moment in spring when I was reflecting on the speed with which summer would arrive. The snowdrops were nodding, Camellia buds bursting, it seems such a long way away now. I wasn't surprised to find that 'Glenn's Orbit' was still hanging on to a few flowers, last week I had a couple of cultivars still in flower so I knew they were still around, but I did think that it was remarkable to have such pristine blooms during a hot week in July.
A couple of weeks ago it was the summer solstice, the return journey to winter is underway. I have already seen Cyclamen hederifolium and Acis autumnalis in bloom in other people's gardens over the weekend. I haven't dared to look at home. Perhaps tomorrow I will wander under the trees and see what has appeared. With luck the ground will be bare, waiting for a decent fall of rain. The first Cyclamen always feel like the start of autumn, I'm in no rush to see them.


7th July 2019

Disa aurata
I'm in no rush to see the autumn arrive because I have barely got to grips with summer. The Disa started flowering early this year because of the warm weather in February. They all need repotting (it really will have to be done in a month or two) but for now the big issue is sorting out parents for the next generation.
Disa aurata is unusual in the genus in having clear yellow flowers. There is a yellow flowered mutation of D. uniflora, but that is a very different thing. It is unable to produce red pigment, so the underlying yellow colour of the flower is exposed. It is a strange plant, not very vigorous or very fertile. When it does produce seedlings it seems to pass on its lack of vigour. Disa aurata is much stronger, it still produces red pigment but on the flower it is restricted to a few dots.
The only issue with D. aurata is that it is reluctant to flower. I have five or six pots of it but only two flower spikes this year. It is a pity because I am really keen to use it as a parent and produce some large flowered hybrids that inherit the rich colour.


7th July 2019

Disa (aurata x Colette Cywes).
A few years ago I flowered my first hybrids using Disa aurata. I had crossed it with D. tripetaloides, a white flowered species that is so similar that both plants are occasionally lumped together. I wanted to see what the resulting plants looked like, hoping to get some insight into the way ther yellow colour was inherited. Unsurprisingly the hybrids, D. Trata, were all very similar. Thery were all white flowered, but they (almost) all had pale primrose coloured buds. I had thought that they would be yellow or white. I was wrong.
The next thing to try was crossing D. aurata with a larger flowered hybrid. I used a very pale form of D. Colette Cywes that I was given as 'Peach Blush' but which seems to be the same thing as 'Blush'. The first of the seedlings flowered last year, many more have flowered this. About half of them have yellow flowers in various shades. The other half have salmon pink flowers, again the shade varies, one or two could be called orange at a push.
I have a couple of plants with strong, upright stems and reasonable yellow flowers about three times the size of D. aurata. This is probably the best of them and during the week I pollinated it in the hope of progressing further in the next generation.
And I pollinated the salmon ones, and the orange as well. You never know!



7th July 2019

Philesia magellanica .
Philesia magellanica took my breath away a couple of weeks ago in Scotland. I came back to find that I had two buds on mine. Exciting as it is, my breath remained untroubled by them. Hidden away in the undergrowth at Logan Botanic Garden I also saw a plant labelled Philesia magellanica 'Rosea'. I wouldn't have been surprised to find out that all the plants grown in the UK were a single clone. I had no idea that there had been any selections, and although the difference was slight I think it was real. I came back looking at Philesia with a more careful eye. My plant seems to have rather pale flowers that flare open widely at the mouth.
I was happy putting the difference down to growing conditions, but during the week I visited the National Collection of Lapageria and there in a shady greenhouse like mine grew a Philesia with deep scarlet flowers that scarcely flared at the mouth at all. I didn't buy one. I was stupid. I am going back!
It may all be hogwash, there is a lot of it about. I am more guilty of producing it than many. Still, the little variations in the Philesia in cultivation seem worth noting. It might be worth raising a few seedlings from crosses, it's a nice thing to do on a warm summer's evening clutching a bottle of wine and a paintbrush.
It has been hot and dry, but things could be worse.