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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


2nd August 2020

Hemerocallis 'Chicago Apache' .
What is the point of summer? It's too hot to do anything, we might just as well have a few extra months of spring and then go straight into autumn. Don't give me all than nonsense about the rotation of the planet and the rest of it, there are three space missions heading off to Mars just to get out of it. Something must be done!
It hasn't been the most tolerant of weeks. The hottest day of the year on Friday didn't help. I sweltered in the sun for a bit in the morning and then admitted defeat and headed back indoors to peer at the bright shining misery from the comparative comfort of my office. I didn't get much done, but I was cooler not doing it.
Birthday cakes perform a number of valuable functions. Birthdays mark the slow progression of the years but birthday cakes change to font of the writing on the wall, make it into beautiful calligraphy. They also fill the awkward gap that occurs after the singing of 'Happy Birthday'. Quick, let's cut the cake and move on before anybody feels foolish. The garden is lacking a birthday cake, it needs something to do after the last line of spring has ended. Normally I would mow the meadow and sharpen up the edges in the garden to restore a sense of order. It hasn't been possible this year so I have fallen back on the Hemerocallis. 'Chicago Apache' went in a few years ago and is slowly beginning to dominate the weeds around it. I'm not going to cut it, but I am appreciative of its birthday cake intervention at an awkward moment.


2nd August 2020

Disa Riette .
The Disa are coming to an end. I haven't started cutting off the flowers yet but it will have to happen soon to give the plants plenty of time to resprout before the winter sets in. I have problems throwing things away. Like any hybridist I tend to keep seedlings just in case they are better next year. I'm sure they won't be but it's a difficult truth to face. I was given a pot of Disa 'Riette' seedlings and they have been fascinating over the last few years, a wide selection of colours (all reddish), shapes (all triangular) and heights. I was convinced that there must ne something worth naming as a cultivar from among them. Every year I select out half a dozen contenders none of which seem particularly distinct the following year. I have always wondered why breeders inevitably seem to focus their attention on round flowers with broad petals, but now I think I understand. It gives an objective basis for decision making, something that can be measured and defended. It may not lead to good decisions but they will at least appear to be meaningful.
I have tried with the Disa Riette seedlings and none of the previously selected clones make the grade. This is the only one that I consistently pick out. It isn't a good flower shape but it is very vigorous and floriferous, that will have to do.


2nd August 2020

Roscoea purpurea rubra .
I had the same problem with the red seedlings of Roscoea purpurea. I had a couple of false starts before I managed to get a decent crop of seedlings and that has made them seem especially precious. About 15% were purple flowered and easy to reject, but the remainder have all been red and pink colours. They are all different and they are all good. When Keith Wiley was faced with the same problem I know he selected those with the broadest labellum and I may have to go down the same line. Unfortunately they seem to vary from year to year , I'm guessing in response to nutrition.
I have selected about 15 for further evaluation. Quite a lot of them were in pinkish colours like this one. It seemed to me that once everybody had 'Red Gurkha' there wasn't a lot of point in raising more bright scarlet flowered seedlings, except as a cheap way of filling a bed with extraordinary colour. The surplus seedings will get planted out around the place and given a final chance to prove they have qualities beyond mere flower colour to justify their space in the garden.



2nd August 2020

Nerine angustifolia .
As the Disa fade the forms of Roscoea purpurea have taken over the stage. I have almost convinced myself that the late flowering Roscoea are the only ones I still need to grow in pots in the greenhouse. The spring flowering forms would do just as well outside, and I don't have room for all of them. I am totally convinced of it, but for one small fact. I have been down this path before, planting them all out and then spending the following decade slowly bringing them back inside again. However they do well in the garden, all I need is a touch of colour to cheer me between the fading of the Disa and the Nerine explosion of autumn.
It isn't a long gap, the first flower on N. angustifolia is open, indeed the flowers are starting to fade in the heat. I have taken the anthers off in the hope that the flowers will last until the first N. sarniensis flower can pollinate them. It is a hybrid that I would love to make, I have visions of a race of small growing multi-coloured hybrids with sensible leaves. It is the sort of insane idea that makes it easy to do extra pollinations and ignore the selection process that has to come later (don't mention the Disa, I have made far too many crosses this year). The first N. sarniensis is rushing to do the job, flower open but the anthers aren't quite ripe yet. Perhaps Monday or Tuesday...
Before the Nerine reach their prime the first autumn snowdrops will appear if they aren't all dead in their pots - a perpetual worry. They won't be, it's just a worry. The awkward pause of hot summer weather gives time for that sort of thing.
I have had one birthday cake this year, but it feels like it might be time for another!