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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


26th July 2020.
Disa Kewpride.








It has been a hot-cold-sunny-overcast week depending on the exact moment when the assessment was made. It has also been a bitey week. I am lucky that the garden, although surrounded by fields, is not surrounded by livestock. I have visited gardens during the week with distant views and close cattle that are alive with biting flies. Now biting flies are an evolutionary wonder that I view with awe and reverence. Being bitten, on the other hand, is a painful nuisance and I swat the painful nuisance with triumphant glee before prending to regret what I have done. Fortunately I have been luckier at home, so far. I have no neighbouring cattle and therefore little attraction to biting flies. I also have a neighbouring village with thousands of pairs of easily irritated swatting hands. I'm not sure which factor has the greater effect, but I am grateful for it.
Rain at the end of last week brough the flies out in force, but it also freshened the water in the Disa tanks. It was a good thing.
If I kept a stud-book instead of an accumulation of cryptic notes, I might be able to say why I crossed Disa Kewensis with Disa Kirstenbosh Pride. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me now. I would have had a plan, but I doubt that it included a tsunami of synthetic pink. The seedlings have flowered this year, and they have flowered remorselessly. If they had just been pink then I might have disregarded them, but they have been intense pink and perhaps it was that intensity of colour I was hoping to get. Whatever my plan they have been shockingly irresistible. They are fading now as the season comes to a close but I have made a couple of hybrids from them to continue their raucous heritage and no, I haven't kept a note of that intention. It will be another surprise.

26th July 2020

Acis autumnalis .
The weather has been overcast occasionally, but it has also been hot and dessicating. I watered the Nerine house to stir them from their slumbers, imagining that a good soak now would be enough to wake them. I was too late. Nerine 'Catherine' already has a flower spike showing. As the Disa fade the Nerine are stepping tentatively towards the spotlight. The first signs of autumn are stirring in the pots. I had already heard reports of flowers on Acis autumnalis and I was confident that watering the pots would awaken them. Once again I was wrong, the first flowers were scattered among the sleeping Nerine bulbs.
I have several different strains of A. autumnalis but they seed freely in the Nerine house so I would be hard pressed to say which was which now. Last year I made the decision to make some space and plant the abundant Acis in the Nerine pots where they could add interest without disturbing the cultivation schedule in any way. It seems to have worked, the little white bells were dangling from pots as I woke the Nerine. I liked it.
One of the Nerine pots has a population of snowdrops thriving in it, an accidental bulb probably got carried in with some old compost. I find it challenging. It adds interest in the spring but offends my sense that the label in the pot should accurately represent the contents. I feel slightly aggrieved when I look at it, something is wrong that isn't really wrong. I like it and I'm going to do more of it.

26th July 2020

Calanthe reflexa .
Autumn has been signposted throughout the garden this week. I have cut down a number of trees and exposed a large Acer palmatum to the light. It hasn't seen this much sunshine since it lived in a pot beside my front door. It has responded by showing the first signs of coppery colour in the top of the canopy. It is now tall enough to have a canopy. I looked at it as I walked around, uncertain whether it was stress or autumn causing the effect. I decided that it was autumn.
In the greenhouse, Calanthe reflexa has flowered. The spring Calanthe have come and gone. A long leafy period followed and now I have flowers again, a second bite of the Calanthe cherry.
I have grown a number of Calanthe over the years though eventually I killed them with a mixture of complacency and ignorance. C. reflexa was one that I missed, it had flowered cheerfully for a number of years as the summer garden scorched, a cool promise of autumn to come. I was delighted when I was able to replace it and even more delighted to see it flower again.

26th July 2020

Cyclamen hederifolium .
Last week a sharp overnight shower had fallen before I wrote this piece. The meadow grasses through the garden were hanging their soaked heads and silvery droplets soaked my shoes as I walked through them. I thought that the next decent fall of rain would bring the Cyclamen into flower. I was wrong. Once again I was ambling along behind events. When the garden cooled in the evening I wandered around for a bit and found a single Cyclamen flower caught in a shaft of evening sunshine. It is an early flowering individual, the same one has been heralding autumn for several years now. It doesn't represent the main Cyclamen season, it is just an advisory flower. Be prepared, things are moving.
As indeed they are. There is a small collection of Cyclamen species down in the greenhouse. Through the summer they have looked like pots of gravel and would have been easy to throw out. Now there is a scattering of buds showing. Four weeks after the summer solstice the balance of the seasons has tipped.
I meant to get the chimney swept in the long slow days of summer. I meant to get the heaters serviced before there was any chance of cold weather. The Cyclamen have arrived to nudge me out of inactivity.