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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


29th September 2019

Fascicularia bicolor ssp. canaliculata .
Throughout the dry summer I was watching the level of water in the tanks. In most years the rain is heavy enough after June to keep them topped up. This year they seemed to teeter on the brink, just approaching empty when a quick shower would raise the level enough to get things through a couple more days. I was a summer of anxiety, of constant vigilance. I didn't have to water by hand, but it was still very hard work.
I went down to the greenhouse yesterday and water was flooding out of the overflow like Niagara Falls. Autumn has arrived.
Not that there was ever any doubt on the matter. Fascicularia bicolor canaliculata has been blushing with prickly awkwardness for weeks and the flowers have finally opened. I have several clones, the flowers in different shades of blue. My favourite has long orange leaves that burst upwards like a volcanic eruption. That one doesn't flower very often.
This one is in the greenhouse for reasons that even I don't understand. It is the one with the darkest blue flowers in the garden. I have seen darker, but they aren't the easist things to casually divide. A polite enquiry is unlikely to result in a quick cutting. You have to arrive in thorn-proof clothing with a couple of sharp spades and perhaps an iron bar for leverage. Then you can try the nonchalent "you couldn't spare a cutting could you?"
I am rarely that well prepared.


29th September 2019

Lapageria rosea
Propagation is also a problem with Lapageria. I obtain them when I am able, even though I have no talent at all for their cultivation. I thought that they were all dead this year, they hated the long hot summer. I was late to put up shading. All the signs were bad. Amazingly they have all produced new growth as the weather cooled down and they are all flowering. I have a shady corner on the north wall of the greenhouse where they might be happier and the plan for the winter is to clear it of junk and move them all out there. It isn't perfect, but it could hardly be worse than where they are.
The hanging red flowers are one of the delights of the season, appearing at the same time as the Colchicum. The former seem like the last concentrated drops of summer's honey being squeezed from the wiry stems. The latter, the first sign of turgid spring growth bouncing from the ground. Together they encapsulate the mixed experience of autumn. Neither of them appreciate the heavy rain. The first Colchicum are now lying flat on the ground, drowned in the sudden puddles. 'Waterlily' is strangely ironic.


29th September 2019

Nerine exbury copper lavender.
Outside the weather has been wet. The grass needs cutting but it is never dry enough. In the morning it is covered in a heavy dew. It doesn't lift before the showers start. Walking around the garden is a wet process, boots fill with water, socks get soaked and before long the squelching and bubbling of wet feet in wet boots becomes too much. I haven't lit the fire yet, but I retreat to the house and look wistfully at the fireplace trying to remember when I last swept the chimney. I should probably do that before it gets cold.
Down in the greenhouse the warmth of autumn lingers. It doesn't take much sunshine to push the temperature up though there is condensation on the plastic now. An occasional drip is less than 10% water, 90% cold shiver. The flower spikes on the Nerine have been rushing up. I was enjoying the stage where there was something new every day and then I spent a couple of nights away. The place was full of flowers when I got back, the flood gates had opened in my absence. The precious bursting buds had become a pink stampede. Neriniagara!
This is an un-named seedling from Exbury. I had a phase when I was collecting these strange, not-quite-purple colours and this one seemed to be copper-lavender when I got it. I'm not sure that I would describe it in the same way now but I like it and it has been the parent of a large number of seedlings, the oldest of them approaching flowering size now. Next year should be interesting - the hybridists constant refrain.



29th September 2019

Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Pink Panther' .
Colchicum agrippinum had already warned that spring was on its way. Another large blob of colour among the snowdrop beds surprised me. Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder' had flowered. I had forgotten it was there. If I had been faster and more mindful I might have seen it before the wind and rain knocked it flat. As it was all I saw was the circle of lilac on the floor where the clustered flowers had collapsed. Perhaps next year.
I was looking for the first signs of snowdrops outside. It is too early for flowers but I thought there might be tiny noses showing. Nothing.
I was sent looking by the first flowers on Galanthus reginae-olgae 'Pink Panther'. It is growing in the greenhouse and it has responded to being watered by producing a cluster of flowers. As well as being the first snowdrop to open, it is the first pink snowdrop I have grown. It isn't particularly pink but I was surprised by the depth of the colour. I was expecting white through the bloodshot eyes of wishful thinking. I haven't meddled with the colour, this is as the camera captured it. The buds open white and get darker as they age.
I think of it as the distant stain of Santa. There, I have said it. Christmas is coming!