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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


28th June 2020

Aconitum 'Bressingham Spire' .
The week started with a continuation of the cool weather that had brought rain, but by midweek high temperatures had returned. Wednesday was a difficult day for gardening - I gave up quite rapidly and worked indoors for a few hours until the evening brought some relief.
The garden has responded to the strange and erratic weather. The surge of spring growth came to a rapid conclusion in mid-May. The last of the azaleas flagged as the border dried out and suddenly it was clear that spring had ended. With it has ended the purposeful push of spring, the seemingly endless tide of flowers and colours ended as abruptly as a wave on the sand. The summer spectacle will emerge as a patchwork of unconnected events, without the earlier urgency.
Aconitum 'Bressingham Spire' grows beneath a large Trachycarpus. When it went in a decade ago it grew beside a small Trachycarpus but time has changed their relationship. Now the Aconitum flowers add a cool richness to the Trachycaprus shadow. It isn't part of a cleverly worked out plan. There was no plan, there was just a space that got filled. Eventually I will settle down and sort the border out again, at which time the Aconitum will move back into the sun where it would prefer to be.


28th June 2020

Iris ensata 'Rose Queen' .
During the winter I looked at the number of Iris that I was growing and wondered why? They have crept up on me slowly, filling odd corners as they go. The Pacific Coast Iris are safe. They have a certain charm and grace attached to them. More importantly, they have a certain space allocated for them. The sibirica Iris are more of a problem. They have slowly accumulated like copies of the National Geographic magazine in a dentists waiting room. If I had a good clean through they might all end up on the compost heap.
Iris ensata presents a different dilemma. I have a number of cultivars, most of them languishing in the drying herbaceous border, waiting to be rescued. I have somewhere better to put them, all I need is a free day to effect the transfer. If I had done it a couple of months ago then they would all be in flower now, as it is the parched leaves are all I will see this year. I had a plan to scatter them through the herbaceous border to bring some colour to early summer but it hasn't worked. Perhaps it is the bitterness of that recognition that is holding me back.
'Rose Queen' was lucky, she never made it to the herbaceous border in the first place and is now putting on a show that should provide some stimulus to action.


28th June 2020

Echinopsis 'Pineapple Poll' .
My collection of cacti is also sitting in a strange limbo between observation and action. They have slowly been invaded by Oxalis and I have watched it happening with calm detachment. I have repotted about half of them, it has resolved the Oxalis problem but that it where I have stopped.
Echinopsis encapsulate my indecision about all cacti, and indecision leads to inactivity. When they are in flower they are magnificent. When they are not in flower they are offensively prickly. Last time I repotted the Echinopsis I did it wearing thick gloves and I still spent several days afterwards finding spines lodged in my fingers.
'Pineapple Poll' was raised by Brian Fearn at Abbey Brook Cacti, a seedling from 'King Midas'. He describes it as orange yellow with deep orange filaments and my plant is distinctly pink so I think some confusion has ocurred along the way. It is unfortunate because Echinopsis hybrids are falling out of favour at present (I'm not the only one who has been spiked once too often). Hopefully it will be possible to correct the name at some point but it may take a few years. The day after this picture was taken the flowers faded, and that was that for another year.



28th June 2020

Umbilicus rupestris .
There have been plenty of wonderful details around the garden. The Echinopsis have been astonishing this week, the Disa have continued their spectacular salute to the summer and even the Tulbaghia have been good in their unique, oniony way.
Walking down through the garden it was the Red Campion that was the most impressive. It is an awful weed. If I had the ability I would banish it entirely from the garden and then every year in June I would retreat to my bed for a week and sulk because I didn't have it.
With thoughts of that sort to puzzle me I walked past Umbilicus rupestris growing on the cut stump of a Hawthorn. It has a distribution in the western parts of the UK, probably enjoying the moister atmosphere. It grows very abundantly from the cracks in the stone walls and has even established on the bare concrete blocks of one of my sheds. When in a suitable location the flower stems can be as much as 50cm tall, growing absolutely vertical. A healthy colony can be an arresting sight.
I have places in the garden where it grows more lushly and abundantly that this, but I have never seen it looking more charming.