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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


12th April 2020

Gentiana ligistica .
The fabulous weather has continued, a sparkling delight every morning that stretches through the day until the last precious drops of pure light illuminate the evening garden. It has been delightful, carefree mellow weather for lying on the grass in the morning with a cup of coffee and watching the blue colour of the sky as it intensifies.
It's all becoming rather tiresome.
I adore fine weather, it makes working in the garden a delight. I have been chopping down scrub and trees frantically trying to make space to plant things out before it all becomes too dry. A fortnight ago things were still too wet and cold, in a fortnight's time it will be too hot and dry. Somehow I have to fit a year's planting into four weeks. It's all becoming rather tiresome.
And the sky has been spectacularly blue, or so I thought until Gentiana ligustica flowered. It is just another accident of culture, I can't grow Gentians and I have no credible explanation for the survival of this one. The flower is very welcome regardless of the circumstances. I grow it in pure stone chippings and keep it wet. I don't understand how it has survived, I think it has done it just to perplex me. I must remember to take care of it and feed it properly. I know it is doomed, but the condemned Gentian deserves a last meal.


12th April 2020

Magnolia 'Star Wars' .
With the sky so blue and the Magnolia so pink I have been convinced all week that there is a picture in there somewhere. The buds on Magnolia 'Star Wars' started to open two weeks ago but they have been cautious, opening slightly at the tips but not bursting wide. They have the peculiar banana-shaped eccentricity of most Magnolia buds, all curving in the same direction like little hunched old men peering anxiously into the future. There should have been a decent picture in that as well but somehow the light and the time and the angles have all been against it.
In the end I was walking past in the evening as the sun illuminated this low flower and it is the best picture I have managed.
It is a pretty Magnolia with large, clear pink flowers very like the giant trees of the M. campbellii persuasion that flower in February but it is smaller growing and flowers at a younger age. I think it is also tougher than M. campbellii. It has established in the exposed conditions at the top of the garden where M. campbellii has failed. Perhaps it has thicker twigs, less sensitive to dessication in the wind.
I am going to keep trying with M. campbellii. I am sure that if I can get a couple to establish then there will be enough protection to add some more. Unfortunately I have spent the week cutting down trees and scrub when I should really have been pricking out last years Magnolia seedlings. I blame the weather - it has been too lovely.


12th April 2020

Paeonia mascula ssp. mascula .
One advantage of the scrub clearance is that it has allowed more light to reach Paeonia mascula in the morning. I have been working alongside it, watching as the flowers expand in the warmth. I planted it several years ago as a young seedling, not expecting it to survive. The only available space was lightly shaded and the ground a little moister than I would have thought ideal. As is so often the case in this garden, a space had to be found and this was the best option. It has worked, the peony is more tolerant than I had expected.
There are a handful of flowers this year. I tried to get a picture of the whole thing but the blooms are well spaced over the mound of bold foliage. In the end the detail was more attractive than the whole.
Beside it I grow a couple of forms of P. lactiflora that never flower. They really do demand more light and there is a space further up in the garden where I have a new herbaceous border, at least in mind. There are plants scattered around the place that all deserve full sun and if there is time after the clearing and planting out then I hope to get around to making it. As I say, it is currently a border in mind.



12th April 2020

Erythronium 'Pagoda' .
I am prone to being distracted by the things that aren't quite right. I don't think I am alone, I think it is a very human approach to the world. Under the trees at the top of the garden I have some space to come to terms with that. It started out as a small block of woodland put in to strengthen the windbreak. It is made up of mixed native saplings and they were originally planted 2 meters apart on a grid pattern. It was very practical. Underneath I planted snowdrops and wood anemone and then left it to its own devices. Years later I returned, cut down the bramble undergrowth that had taken over and was left with a young woodland, mostly Ash, the irregular survivors of the original saplings. Since then I have been augmenting the planting beneath the trees, always aiming to achieve a series of waves of colour through the spring.
Erythronium 'Pagoda' was the first success. They haven't formed the unbroken carpet of flower that I had imagined, they have been far better than my pedestrian unblemished perfection. They surge and swell in lines and clumps like wonderful ribbons fluttering in the wind. This has been their week, the first flowers opening at the start, and the first flowers fading by the end. It hasn't been a long spectacle, although they will drag it out for another couple of weeks, but it has been spectacular. The heat and dry weather has not helped them and during the winter I removed a few more trees, which has left them more exposed. I have dragged myself up the hill every evening this week to see them as the sun sinks, enjoying the perfection they have managed despite the rather tiresome weather.
A perfection they have managed despite my grand intentions.
I find it heartening.