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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


25th August 2019

Dahlia merckii .
After the wet weather last week we seem to be slipping back into summer, at least until you look at the garden. In the herbaceous border - that title makes me laugh but I haven't found a better one - Dahlia merckii is full of flower. I would like more of it but I'm too lazy to raise it from seed again and the season for cuttings is amazingly short. One moment the fresh new growths are thrusting upwards and the next they are full of flower and flopping all over the ground. I will have to find a way, and as with so many garden jobs, it will have to be next year now. It will flower until the first serious frosts. I have had years where the last flowers continue to poke through the first snows of winter but a freeze will bring a rapid end to that sort of nonsense.


25th August 2019

Veronicastrum virginicum 'Roseum'
A few years ago I wanted to add some of the tough perennials of late summer to the border. I know I can't expect to grow the classic prairie plants but I did wonder if there might be one or two species that would tolerate my damp and humid climate and still perform through August and September. So far the best candidate has been Veronicastrum virginicum. With my usual cavalier attitude to aquiring such things, I planted the first one I found in a nursery. It happened to be 'Roseum'. I am very happy with it. It isn't as tall or magnificent in flower as it was at the Beth Chatto nursery where I happened to be when I saw it, but I am very happy with it. I might even say that I have become fond of it in a pining-for-the-hot-eastern-counties sort of way. It brings a pink-tinged touch of sunny autumnn to the border.


25th August 2019

x Didrangea versicolor .
In the case of x Didrangea versicolor, I am celebrating its resurgence, rather than the resurgence of the season. I had listened to the dire warnings that Dichroa were not as hardy as Hydrangea, but this one had prospered in the garden and flowered almost continually from the day it went in until the day after the beast from the east hit.
Almost overnight the flowers died and the blue tinged leaved curled up and went crispy. By then I was so used to it being around that I could hardly believe it would be touched by a few windy days. I was in for a surprise. For several months after I was convinced that it was dead. It was an unaccountably happy day when I spotted the first new shoots. It isn't particularly spectacular or unusual but it speaks to me. I find its presence very homely. It is a comforting plant. Eighteen months later I have the first flowers, and no doubt it will remain in flower for week after week as though nothing had happened. Things have changed however. Now I cherish every moment.



25th August 2019

Banksia integrifolia .
I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with tautology. It is true that I came to that conclusion quite recently, indeed I arrived there just moments ago. Just before I wrote the phrase cherished moments are to be cherished. I was going to modify it, but decided that I couldn't improve on it.
It applies to Banksia, Australian members of the Proteaceae. For years I regarded them as curiosities, strange dusty shrubs with awkward shapes and flowers that seemed to recede from reality faster than my hair line. Then I saw Banksia integrifolia flowering in a cold greenhouse and realised that I could provide suitable conditions. I bought one and it suffered for a while before I finally planted it in the Agave house. I had to cut it down and it sulked. I bought another for the south wall of the house and it died in the winter. The sulky one got over it and now I have a flower head.
Cherished moment.