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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


5th April 2020

Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana' .
The sunshine has continued all week, despite persistent attempts by the forecasters to convince me that the cloud is coming. It hasn't really appeared, except as an occasionl fluffy white shape in the far distance whose sole purpose is to emphasise the blueness of the sky. I lit the bonfire during the week and as it took off I suddenly started to worry about the dryness of the surrounding undergrowth. After months of total saturation, the garden has started to dry and I thought it would be a pity to immediately burn it to the ground. Fortunately the bonfire is sited on a slab of concrete, the litter on the surface is only superficial and it didn't burn anyway so no harm done. However I have taken note that it is getting dry.
I have a tiny piece of woodland at the top of the garden, an extended windbreak that I planted when I first moved here. Through the years I have embellished the woodland flora, releasing a number of suitable plants from potted captivity. Anemone nemorosa 'Robinsoniana' was an early beneficiary of the process and now forms a large patch. I went up to look at it this morning, hoping to find the flowers open in the sunshine and was lucky to arrive as a beam of light illuminated the plant. A.n. 'Royal Blue' grows just behind it but only produces a few odd flowers from an equivalent mat of foliage. Nearby A.n. 'Dee Day' wriggles through the hellebores flowering from most shoots but never forming a thick cover. A flower here, a flower there, it has covered a lot of ground without really making any impact.


5th April 2020

Camellia 'Barchi' .
Yesterday time and sunshine worked together to draw me into the garden for en entire day. Such opportunities are rare. I was determined to plant more stuff. I particularly wanted to plant out some of the large Camellia still growing in pots in the greenhouse. They aren't there for a good reason, just because it was easier to pot on young plants than look for suitable spaces in the garden. Yesterday I started to make space. A road runs along the eastern boundary of the garden and the hedge that divides us has been colonised by Blackthorn, my least favourite cherry. By trimming out the Blackthorn I am slowly creating a long strip suitable for all the spare camellias in need of homes. The plan is to work my way around the perimeter of the garden, filling in the gaps. It is a small idea but it made me happy - suddenly I have a place to put things.
Camellia 'Barchi' belongs to an earlier era of panic. Just put it in somewhere for now, worry about it later. I bought it as a rooted cutting in 2006 and it hasn't appeared in my notes since then. I had forgotten I even had it, however a few flowers on a decent sized bush drew it back to my attention. It's a very ancient Italian cultivar and it seems to be doing rather well. Even more wonderfully, it has remained in contact with its label so I know what it is!
It grows on the edge of my woodland grove, the intricate imbricate flowers looking faintly ridiculous as the dappled sunlight ripples over the anemones. Faintly ridiculous is, I think, my favourite tone for a garden.


5th April 2020

Camellia rosthorniana 'Elina'.
Down in the greenhouse Camellia rosthorniana 'Elina' is performing its annual marvel. The pendulous branches are strung with tiny white flowers that are infinitely more beautiful than the dangling strings of fairy lights that have become popular around Christmnas. Unfortunately I don't photograph it very well. I try, but repeated pictures fail to capture the wonder of the thing. Part of the problem is the environment. It is a large plant now and if I show the whole thing then you will see it coccooned in an elderly greenhouse, a pearl of beauty in the heart of decay. Quite the reverse of those fashion icons from the 1960's whose attraction has collapsed from the inside outwards until there is nothing left but a thin crust of cosmetics to conceal the arrival of "character".
It has become too large for the space and although I am reluctant to move it, I will have to find a space in the garden. It isn't going into the hedge, it is far too delightful to use as gap-filler but it will have to go somewhere.
This seems to be the only form of C. rosthorniana in cultivation, differing from the species in having a pale pink blush on the buds and outer side of the petals. There is another listed as 'Tianshanfen' which has pink flowers but I have never seen it.



5th April 2020

Calanthe 'No.2' .
Spring arrives in a strange way in the greenhouse, days are warmer under glass and the nights are less damaging. I might expect spring to simply arrive earlier and progress faster but it doesn't always work like that. It is true that the Camellia flowers appear earlier, escape the worst frost damage, and are replaced more rapidly by new growth, but it isn't universal behaviour. The Calanthe for example, did nothing through January and February, even though the greenhouse was warming. Suddenly at the end of March they have all woken up and come straight into flower.
I have a complicated history with Calanthe. My first tangle with the genus resulted in almost immediate calanthicide. I had no idea what to do with them and there was very little guidance available. Perhaps I should qualify that, there was plenty of advice available but very little of it was informed by experience. I did learn that the genus did not thrive in a dry orchid house. My second attempt was more successful, I kept the plants wetter and they performed well for a number of years. Unfortunately, as is often the case with orchids, I was frightened to intervene when they outgrew the pots. The thought of hacking them to pieces terrified me and eventually they all died of starvation and congestion.
This is my third attempt. The world of Calanthe has moved on, they are now being grown form seed on a large scale and sold as un-named hybrids. This in No.2, so called because it was the second one I bought, there is a pedestrian practicality about it. I wasn't convinced I could keep it alive so a number seemed more appropriate. Fortunately it has thrived, grown as a bog plant in the greenhouse. I think they like water and I think they like warmth. They are almost evergreen so conditions at the end of summer are as important as those in spring. I am slowly building a collection of distinct flower colours and shapes. I have no intention of getting carried away, but I have noticed that somehow they are sitting with a whole bench to themselves.
Perhaps I mean that I wasn't aware of the intention.