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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


1st March 2020

Corydalis solida 'George Baker' .
The Blackthorn has opened, clouds of white flowers floating through the hedges like the chilled breath of cattle caught in the spiny branches. With it comes the prosect of a Blackthorn winter, a spell of cold to mirror the blossoms in frost. I have taken all apropriate precautions to protect the garden. I have bought a bag of coal for the fire just in case. I have crossed my fingers. I am prepared!
Under the trees a tiny flash of scarlet suggests that the snow has melted, at least metaphorically. We haven't actually had any snow. Corydalis solida 'George Baker' is flowering. I planted three under the trees as a trial back in forgotten history. They might have been there for a decade but shortly after I planted them they disappeared. It wasn't until 2012 that I saw flowers again and they have limped along rather weakly since then. I have been watching them. I would like to carpet the ground with them but I'm not going to buy the bulbs unless these few show some enthusiasm. Last year I was satisfied and determined to plant some more only losing my nerve as the bulb catalogues arrived. This year I am sure. They have established and are getting stronger. This is the year to plant some more.


1st March 2020

Erythronium albidum .
Erythronium albidum also made a slow start. The first one I planted seemed to disappear like the Cheshire Cat, slowly fading from sight until there was nothing there but ... well, until there was nothing there. This is the replacement and I think it has established. Conditions aren't perfect for it among the snowdrops, it's a bit dry. Moister conditions with some light shade and I think it might spread into dense carpes of delight. All sorts of things would grow more vigorously under those conditions, wouldn't it be nice if I could supply them. It will have to put up with life where it is.
The garden is bursting with enthusiasm this week. There has been enough rain to keep things on the sodden side of too wet but there have been periods of bright sunshine to punctuate the dark gloom. Spring has been very evident. Crocus flowers have opened as the sun warmed them. Twice. I was counting. I wanted decent weather so that I could take a picture of them in their magnificence. I missed the first chance and they were wind battered for the second. They are only growing in a tub so I could cheat and bring them indoors for the sake of the picture. I can't easily carry the tub. Not with my fingers still crossed anyway.


1st March 2020

Fuchsia 'Diana Wright' .
Walking around the garden on Wednesday I noticed that the Fuchsia had started to flower. I had been watching 'Lechlade Magician' being pushed out of flower by the advance of winter. It is a tough old thing, still producing buds from the twigs long after the last of the leaves have been stripped by the gales. Finally, at the start of February, it gave up. The last flowers turned glassy on the stems and fell. It is one of John Wright's hybrids created by crossing F. magellanica with F.excorticata from New Zealand. The latter species flowers in winter and combining the two extends the flowering time of the hybrids.
F. excorticata itself died here during the "beast from the east" event in 2018, but 'Lechlade Magician' shrugged off the cold, as it does every year. New buds burst from the old stems at the first sign of warmth. I have flowers again. 'Whiteknights Pearl' has a similar story and is also in flower.
'Diana Wright' has different parents but has the same growth pattern, producing flowers from the old wood in spring and then continuing to flower until winter stops it. It is now growing in dense shade and the pale flowers dance delightfully in the shadows. I have four fuchsias in flower in the garden at present. I could have dedicated this blog to them entirely but it doesn't seem right!



1st March 2020

Pleione Leda 'Fishing Owl' .
Not only would it feel wrong to write about nothing but fuchsias on the first on March, it would be wrong to miss the start of the Pleione season. I have been anticipating it for months, ever since the leaves browned in the autumn. The fat pseudobulbs are filled with promise and the only disappointment is the empty looking pots as I repot them in January. I have just finished. The disappointment is only skin deep, so to speak. Beneath the surface of the compost, fat pseudobulbs have proliferated. The vacant space at the surface is an illusion. Digging deeper dispels disappointment.
I say this is the start of the Pleione season but it isn't entirely true. P. Wharfdale 'Pine Warbler' attempted to flower in mid-winter, encountered a hungry slug and abandoned the effort. Perhaps next year.
The fear of frost continues but the Corydalis are saying no, the Erythronium and Fuchsia are saying no. Even the Pleione are saying no. As spring advances further and further onto the scene I hope that a flurry of petals are the only sign of a Blackthorn winter.