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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


1st September 2019

Hedychium coccineum 'Tara'.
Temperatures have dropped through the week to the point that a warm bed is a delight again rather than a difficulty. Enough rain has fallen to keep the ground moist. I planted some ferns out this afternoon, they should have enough warmth to establish before winter and enough moisture to mean I won't have to think about watering them all the time. The planting season is looming and I have a greenhouse full of Hedychium to get into the ground. The process of carrying them up from the greenhouse and then planting them into the heavily compacted soil is rather tedious and I have been putting it off. I decided that I could break it down into more manageable pieces and make more progress. If I move them all into the right place first then I can plant them at my leisure.
It's a good plan, but I still haven't started.
'Tara' went in two years ago, so the job has been hanging over me for a long time. The gorgeous orange flowers are an incentive to get the wheelbarrow out and start moving things!
Perhaps tomorrow.


1st September 2019

Scilla lingulata
Planting Hedychium isn't the only job I have been putting off. I have a handful of odd autumn flowering bulbs waiting to be repotted. I could have done it at any time through the summer but somehow the right moment didn't arrive. When I went down to the greenhouse in the week Scilla lingulata had beaten me to it. I had watered it a few days before and the porcelain-blue flowers had rushed straight up out of the compost. I have them in a large tub, it was a charming sight.
However, they had to be repotted. They have been in there for several years, if I don't do it now they will have to wait for another year and they will start going downhill. I tipped the pot out, and with the precision of falling toast the whole lot landed on its head. It doesn't matter. I have split them and potted them. The first flower spikes are a little crooked but I think there are more to come. The display will improve and if not, at least the plants will.


1st September 2019

Rhodophiala 'Harry Hay'.
Last week the Nerine house had its big moment. I went around with a hose and doused everything thoroughly. I like to keep the pots slightly moist through the summer anyway. Not enough to look like water, but enough to keep the compost clumpy and stop it powdering to dust. At the same time I repotted the Rhodophiala out of a vague feeling that I was keeping them too dry in the summer and should refresh and improve their mix. 'Harry Hay' had a handful of dormant bulbs in the pot, the only Rhodophiala I have grown that has increased appreciably.
I repotted the dry bulbs, watered them in and now I have three spikes of flower. I hadn't noticed them coming up, I never notice them coming up. One day I look in the greenhouse and they are in full flower. It is almost perfectly delightful. Almost, but not quite. I would have liked to see the spikes emerge. It adds a sense of expectation that enriches the experience. Seeing them in full flower was an enormous relief as well as a joy. I worry about them. I know they aren't entirely happy with my husbandry. Perhaps that is the emotional problem, too much to handle in one go when I see them suddenly in flower.



1st September 2019

Nerine 'Catherine'.
The week hasn't been distinctly colder than last week, or distinctly wetter. There has been a heavy dew on the grass in the mornings and there isn't much bird song to be heard. Just the fat Wood Pigeons chur-churring, chur-chur-churring the morning away. Nothing seems to have changed very much, yet the garden is a different place. Autumn has arrived, sitting quietly in the wings, waiting for its grand entrance. I have a Liquidambar in the meadow, the fringes of the canopy traced in darkening brown ready for the bonfire of colour to come.
In the greenhouse, the first Nerine has opened. The sinuous spikes have been pushing up for a couple of weeks now, elegant and muscular. There is something anguilliform about them, writhing slowly upwards. 'Catharine' is always the first of the N. sarniensis forms to open for me. Or at least it might be. I have two very similar plants that are both labelled 'Catharine'. This one is early, the second flowers a couple of weeks later. They can't both be right, perhaps neither of them is.
It is nice to have a puzzle to start the Nerine season, with the misleading simplicity of the first chapter of a detective novel. Things are going to get a lot more complicated before the end.