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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


9th August 2020

Pinguicula lusitanica .
Another hot week - perhaps not unexpected in August but hot enough to be noteworthy. It has been punctuated by bouts of rain. Not the delicious sort of rain that tumbles gleefully from the skies, cooling and refreshing the ground as it lands. It has been hot weather rain, the sort where the humid air congeals from time to time into droplets, fogging spectacles and leaving people short of breath. The garden is grateful for any moisture that falls, it still only takes a couple of days of sunshine to return the ground to dust. However, we haven't had a couple of uninterupted days of sunshine, the congealed air has been frequent if not entirely refreshing. The Hydrangea that I planted out last week hasn't wilted and that is a bonus.
In the greenhouse I am keeping an eye on the water trays. They are replenished when it rains but we haven't had enough falling to make much of a difference. Plants like Pinguicula lusitanica would not survive a day in this heat without water. It is short lived anyway, replacing itelf annually from seed if left to its own devices. The new crop of seedlings are already germinating in the pots even though the plants are still producing a few flowers. I can never resist the challenge of trying to photograph them. With maximum magnification and by cropping the picture I can just about get an image worth showing. Not a good image, but one to remind me the plant is there. Next year I will have another go after tactical consideration and some juggling of the technology. The results will be much the same, it's strangely reassuring.


9th August 2020

Utricularia praelonga .
Utricularia praelonga presents similar photographic challenges. The bright yellow flowers are scattered thinly over the plant on long thin stems. I get problems finding enough flowers to frame in a picture. I get problems in bright light with overexposure of the yellow. It wasn't a problem yesterday, the cloud rolled in and dulled the light all afternoon. Finally I get problems with the background looming intrusively behind the floating flowers. Can't be helped, the plant is growing in one of the water trays, this was the only accessible position for a picture. I could have hung a cloth behind perhaps but life's too short and it would probably have looked silly.
I have had problems with Utricularia escaping from their pots. U. bisquamata and U. cornuta appear wherever they find enough moisture. They both seed freely (they are weeds) and the flowers have just enough charm to be tolerated. U. reniformis has stout rhizomes that creep through the holes in the base of the pots and escape. I have a small colony running about among the U. praelonga - I was slow to move the pot once it had filled with rhizomes and away it went. There is an odd flower of U. dichotoma in the mix as well. I moved the parent plant away several years ago to prevent that happening. Once again I was not fast enough.
U. praelonga reverses the process. It was never in a pot to begin with, I dropped the small clump I was given into the shallow water and left it to get on with it. It has certainly done that, and now it taunts me by invading other pots through the drainage holes and popping to the surface. It is slowly spreading through the collection by "unescaping".


9th August 2020

Aristolochia fimbriata .
Every week has its surprises, and this week it was Aristolochia fimbriata. I grow a number of Aristolochia species under cover where they are too dry and refuse to flower. I always intend to plant them out without ever quite doing so. A. fimbriata is treated slightly more kindly. It is extremely unlikely to be hardy outside, so I grow it in my warmest (cold) greenhouse. It grows in the same place that the seed was germinated. Indeed, until this spring it grew in the same pot in which it germinated. It has now been repotted, the compost refreshed and it is expressing its gratitude by growing vigorously and flowering. I love the strange flowers but it is the silver veined leaves that give me the most delight as they unfold. They are one of the signs that the warmth of spring has started to build.
It is another of those strange plants from Brazil that are hardier than might be expected. Mine has certainly endured significant frost in the greenhouse, though it will have warmed up rapidly once the sun hit the plastic. It also occurs in Uraguay and Argentine so my plants may have come from a more southern location, more prone to cold weather. I grew it from seed assuming that I might have it for a season and then it would be gone but I planted seed in 2016 and it is still with me.



9th August 2020

Nerine 'Catherine' .
We have had a week of hot evenings. I know that because I have been weeding in the Nerine house trying to get it ready for the flowering season. I was stirred into action by the emergence of the first flower spike. Weeding gets a lot more difficult once there are flower spikes coming up, so it was weeding last week or give up on the idea altogether. Three long stints got the job done even if I could barely stand up by the end of it. I took all of the staging out of the Nerine house to force myself to grow things in large pots on the floor and to control the proliferation of little things tucked away in forgotten corners. It all looks wonderful when it flowers. I have to weed it by crawling along on my hands and knees pushing a bin in front of me to gather the detritus. It isn't dignified and it isn't comfortable but I have a remarkable talent for creating impossible chaos on staging so it is the best way.
'Catherine' responded by rushing into flower. I have three pots of the cultivar from different sources. They all look exactly the same but this pot always starts the Nerine season for me. The second pot will flower at the end of August and the third pot will flower right in the middle of the season and be completely unremarkable. I am very fond of 'Catherine', I raise seedlings from it and I value the early flowers. At least I like this 'Catherine', the other two are just filler really.
With the Nerine tidy my attention has turned to the rest of the greenhouse and the endless process of wrestling order from the exuberance of summer. Roscoea-ho!