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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


28th July 2019

Cyclamen hederifolium .
The heat of summer has continued. Some short showers have helped the garden but there has been no downpour. Thunderstorms and torrential rain in the eastern counties have not affected us here. Having said that, perhaps the dry weather is ending with gentle dignity, in the way it did last summer. I walked up to the top of the garden too see how the woodland was looking and the ground underfoot had softened. It no longer crunches like fresh gravel on a drive, the spongy silence of the woodland floor has returned.
I went up there to look for Cyclamen. It is the time of year and the ground has had a gentle soaking, they should be appearing. Perhaps they just start to appear at the end of July every year, but it always feels as though they need a shower to wake them up. Perhaps there are always showers in the last week of July and the two things are entirely coincidental. Whatever the reason, the Cyclamen are up, the woodland floor has softened, the fuse to the fireworks of autumn has been lit.


28th July 2019

Roscoea purpurea 'Red Sultan'
I have a plan to build a new herbaceous border. I should probably finish the old one first, but we'll put small details like that aside. I want a border of plants that are entirely underground in winter. A border that I can simply clear once each year and then leave it to its own devices. A fortnight ago I mowed the area to make access easier. Last week I sprayed off the weeds with a herbicide, this week (after days of anxious waiting) I can see that the herbicide is having an effect. It would have been nice to get to this point in the spring, then I could have planted it through the summer, but at least progress is being made.
The search for plants that are genuinely leafless through the winter has been interesting. Driving down the A30 yesterday I was admiring the cerise stands of Willowherb. There is a white one and a pale pink that might be worth a try. I have nothing to lose, I already have the wild form dancing through the garden like an elephant in a tutu.
Enchanted by the Cyclamen, my wandering eye landed on the Roscoea. I could plant them in the new border and they would finally have a suitable home. It feels like a plan.
Roscoea purpurea could be an exception. I am still delighting in the red forms, flowering as the Disa fade and before the Nerine get going. I have a couple of dozen forms and if I planted out all of the spring Roscoea I would have enough space for them in the greenhouse, at least while I am still actively growing seedlings.
'Red Sultan' is a beautiful thing, raised by Keith Wiley at Wildside, one of a handful of his own seedlings that he has named. I have a dozen or so of my own that I have selected for future observation. Space will have to be found. Roscoea will have to be planted.


28th July 2019

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Love You Kiss'.
At present a lot of the (less interesting) Roscoea are planted in front of a row of Hydrangea. It bought me a few years grace, but it hasn't really worked. Bramble seedlings germinate among the Hydrangea and I can't really get them out without trampling the Roscoea. It adds a weight of complexity that means a task is perpetually put off for another day. A new border will solve a lot of problems.
The Hydrangea have been a triumph. I wanted a river of blue wriggling through the dappled shade of the windbreak trees. It hasn't quite worked out that way because I immediately cut the trees down, tired of the opressive shade, but the wriggling river of blue has been a triumph. The colour seems to get deeper and more satisfying every year. I was unable to restrict my delight in Hydrangea to the blue ones, but I did have the sense to plant the other colours in other places. They give me great delight, particularly the unfortunately named 'Love You Kiss'. It should sell to every passionate plant lover but the name puts them off. Instead it sells to every passionate lover. As a consequence I am sure the Japanese breeder has made a fortune even though the cultivar isn't patented.
It was perhaps inevitable that 'Love You Kiss' would lead to children. There are lots of them but the parent is still the best of the bunch in my opinion.



28th July 2019

Acis autumnalis .
I may not be entirely sure what coaxes the Cyclamen into flower but the Acis behaviour is slightly clearer. I watered them last week and now they are in flower. It is a pretty little plant, producing delicate flowers just as the heat of summer starts to crush the the joie de vivre from the garden. For a while I collected together a number of named forms and strains that showed slight variations but the years have rolled by. The slight variations have been absorbed into a swarm of summer delight.
It has started to wander about through the Nerine collection, seedlings appearing in strange places while the Nerine are still dormant. I get the same effect with Galanthus nivalis. A few years ago some spare bulbs were accidentally mixed into some fresh compost as I repotted the Nerine and now they appear in February, adding some interest to the pots. They don't seem to do any harm so I am happy to leave them to it.
The Acis even manage to add a note of triumph in the face of adversity. This one has seeded into a pot of Oxalis and so reversed the normal state of affairs.
Acis autumnalis, I doff my little pixie hat to you!