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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


1st December 2019

Nerine 'Amy Doncaster' .
With the days continuing to shorten and the rain continuing to fall it is easy to feel gloomy in the garden. There are hints of a change afoot. On Friday the sky cleared for a few moments to let the sun shine, trees cast gaunt shadows and the swaying branches flickered. There has been a warning of high pressure building. It will bring some sunshine but with it comes the threat of cold weather.
In the meantime there is more brightness in the garden. There are still some leaves to fall, but not enough to notice. Overcast light through the week has reached as far as the ground, the garden has started to look emptier. It has a wintery silence. At least it has if you overlook the wind chortling in the branches and the thunderous crashing of dead wood to the ground.
So there have been good times for sheltering in the greenhouse. The last wave of Nerine flowers are at their peak. It would be nice to think that the display might hang on until the New Year but they are fighting to remain fresh in the clammy atmosphere. If it turns cold I think they might all wilt overnight.
'Amy Doncaster' is a beautiful rich pink. I was told that it was hardy but I haven't tried it outside yet.


1st December 2019

Galanthus elwesii monostictus 'Hiemalis' .
Slowly the collapse of autumn continues and it is taking the dreariness of the season with it. Summer burnt away this year in a good display of autumn colour but it rapidly turned sodden and brown. It waved crisply from the branches for a while but it couldn't resist the wind and rain. The ground is looking well mulched. For now it looks as though the ground is covered in dead leaves but very rapidly it will fade into the soft spring soil and be ready for the new season.
I have been looking at the space where the Erythronium will emerge. Not yet, still far too soon, but I have been looking at it with contentment. That is where they will emerge, invisible promise.
However the snowdrops have started. Last week they looked a bit precocious, trembling shoots venturing into the storm. This week they look more settled. All around the noses of the rest of the collection have started to emerge, satin grey pearls at ground level. Now the open flowers don't look isolated, they look like the tip of an iceberg.
My stock of 'Hiemalis' has varied wildly in the date the first flower opens over the years. This is one of the earliest years. It has increased well and the handful of open flowers make a worthwhile statement, albeit on a rather small scale.


1st December 2019

Camellia 'Show Girl' .
Gardens are wonderful, everything synchronises, dreams and reality come together for a moment. Occasionally. It is the unrealised promise that keeps us going.
For many years the Leyland Cypress around Camellia 'Show Girl' have been too tall and growing taller, growing more unwanted every year. Two years ago I started to address the situation. The largest of them were felled with qualified success. The last one had to fall precisely along the line of a path. It did so with an admirable spirit of co-operation. I was very pleased. Unfortunalely Leyland Cypress are wilful things, they like to make a stand, even as they fall. The last one to come down made it clear that this shouldn't be seen as a (de)capitulation by turning a perfect pirouette as it fell. Stylish.
The drawback was that it side-swiped 'Show Girl' as it came down, snapping a good third of the top off. Last year it looked awkwardly truncated. I am very fond of 'Show Girl', there was a lot of hope hanging on this year. Last week the first bud was showing pink petals, crunched up and full of promise. It has been a trying week, the weather has been damaging. When I walked up into the garden to see how it was doing I hoped that the flower would be open. You know the sort of hope, teeth gritted, heart on the sleeve, blinking-back-the-disappointment sort of hope. Perhaps the poor early flower would have fallen victim of the weather.
Half a dozen open flowers, tearful with the delight of mist and drizzle, sparkling with freshness. Spring, wonderful spring dangling from the branches.
So it was a happy moment. The pirouetting Leyland is still lying where it fell, a job for another day. The damage it did is repairing.



1st December 2019

Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' .
I am very lucky, the autumn lingers for a long time in the garden and spring comes early. I like to deny the existence of winter. Nobody seems to mind. With winter looming I have already had enough of it. There are a few plants that flower in winter. I can't pretend they belong to late autumn, or early spring. They are winter flowers. The Mahonia have started and I am ignoring them. The Sarcococca haven't started yet, they look dreadful. The Hamamelis haven't started, but the buds have become comfortingly spherical, they are ready.
Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' has started. No hint of a scent at present but perhaps hoping for scent from a single cluster of blooms in a strong wind is overly optimistic. For the first time ever the bloom is in a convenient position. High enough on the bush to reach without stooping, low enough to get close. It is a small thing, but with the rain falling and the wind blowing it was appreciated.
Winter will rapidly pass back into fiction, spring will overwhelm it. Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' may be the only evidence of winter this year. That would make it very welcome. On the other hand the weather may get worse before it starts to improve. Whatever happens, 'Charles Lamont' will carry on producing blooms of good cheer for a couple of months to soften the blow.