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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


6th October 2019

Colchicum 'Waterlily' .
It feels as though it has rained all week. I don't think that it has but the mornings have been dew-soaked and once my feet get wet, they seem to stay wet. I slosh out of my boots at the end of the day and leave a trail of wet footprints on a direct path to the bath. The tail end of a hurricane blew in at the end of the week with warm drying winds, and then suddenly the temperature dropped and the rain started. It felt as though the autumn weather had forgotten about summer for good.
The Colchicum surprised me. I knew they were due, the first pale buds had started to show pushing through the ground under the trees, but they seem to have rushed into flower. More amazing still, they have resisted the rainfall and the wind to remain standing, at least for now.
I worry about 'Waterlily'. I want the bulbs to thrive, with an irrational intensity. A few weeks ago, in anticipation of the first flowers, I thinned the trees to give them more light and water. I am hoping that the leaves will grow better next year, the bulbs fatter and the flowers more abundant. What they really need is another decade to establish but I am impatient.


6th October 2019

Paeonia cambessedesii
There are strange fruits all around the garden. At the start of September the seed pods of Magnolia wlsonii split open and the fat pink sausages spilled their bright orange seeds which dangle on thin cords. The cords all seemed to break on the same day. The seeds speckled the ground beneath the tree like a beach of orange-grilled sunbathers. A week later they had vanished. I don't think they were taken away, I think that the orange coating had broken down and they had merged into the background.
There are glowing red berries on the Cotoneaster around the garden. I hadn't noticed they were there until they fruited, I didn't plant them. I suppose that I have the birds to thank. They won't last long. Sometime in the next few months I will root out the seedlings and compost them. The berries are really lovely but the rest of the plant is unwanted.
In the greenhouse, Paeonia cambessedesii is producing a second spectacular show for the year. Fertilised seeds turn black and shiny as they ripen, the infertile seeds become scarlet and it makes a great show as the seed pods burst. If I grew it outside I think it would object to the winter wet and the seeds would be scattered almost as soon as they were exposed. In the greenhouse the display can last for several weeks, until I decide that I need to collect the seed for myself, and then forget to sow it. Last year's seed is still in a paper bag on the kitchen work-top, ready for "immediate" sowing.


6th October 2019

Nerine seedling.
I have a number of batches of Nerine seedlings that are starting to flower this year. They aren't my first hybrids to flower from seed but this is the first year that I have a large number coming up. I planned to have them all in individual pots by the time they flowered so that I could start thinning out the unwanted, but I haven't got there in time. Perhaps there will be time when they are dormant this summer. Perhaps there will be space. If not they will remain in a community pot and only the strongest will survive. It isn't a particularly bad option, but early indications are that I have a few well coloured seedlings that I would like to keep.
This is an example, Nerine exbury copper no.1 x Nerine 'Dingaan'. I did a lot of hybrids using the pollen fron 'Dingaan', the darkest purple flowered cultivar that I have. I was hoping to get more good purple seedlings with the possibility of something even deeper. I also wanted to know if the "copper" colour was genetically related to purple. So far I have one seedling in flower, and it is a good one. The flowers opened dark copper with a paler midstripe and they have become deeper purple as they age. The fading flowers are pure purple. I like to think that in a large batch of flowering seedlings I would still pick this one out. As it is, I just have one. Daddy's favourite!



6th October 2019

Geranium procurrens .
But not all of the dear little things are Daddy's favourites. One of the perils of a large garden is that there is space to be rather indiscriminate in the way things are planted. Plants that are vigorous can seem like a good idea. Plants that can hold their own and need little attention. Plants that seem to thrive on neglect. I have dropped a few magnificent clangers in the garden over the years. Persicaria campanulata still haunts me, popping up in any neglected corner and rapidly spreading into a smothering carpet. I cut it back, I spray it with herbicide but it always seems to return.
It looks as though Impatiens glandulosa might be another problem. I didn't introduce it but it has wandered over the fields behind me and leapt the garden wall. I keep finding them in odd nooks and crannies, almost as though they knew where best to hide. I pull them out and burn them but I get the feeling that it won't be enough.
And then there is Geranium procurrens. It is a pretty, purple flowered scrambler. Just right for filling in late season gaps. I have only ever planted it once, fortunately not far from where it now grows. Then I dug it up, burnt it, sprayed the ground and piled three feet of soil on the site to form a level terrace. But here it is still, surviving, growing, increasing. Filling a late season gap. Filling any gap at all. If anybody ever offers you the purple geranium devil, slap them in the face and run for your life. Never (ever) plant it.
On the other hand it is quite pretty, rooting from every joint as it spreads.