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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


23rd August 2020

Gladiolus garnieri .
The first of the autumn storms passed through in the week, rattling the trees. There is perhaps room to question the distinction between an autumn storm and a summer storm but this one had a feeling of change wrapped in it. If it had happened in a weeks time there would have been no doubt. After a month of changeable weather the wind and rain took over.
The change heralds the arrival of new things in the garden. I have just sprayed the weeds growing in the snowdrop beds and I started to look for the lilac flowers of Colchicum breaking through the dead sems of the annuals. Nothing yet, but it can only be a matter of days.
Down in the greenhouse a Gladiolus has flowered unexpectedly. I moved the pot a couple of weeks ago, noting as I did so that the sheaves of leaves had not produced anything this year. Now there is a flower spike I hadn't noticed which may be enough to save the pot from anonymous burial in the herbaceous border where the production of leaves without flowers is more easily overlooked.
It came to me as G. garnieri, which it isn't however it is not so easy to identify what it is. G. dalenii or a close hybrid has been suggested but it will probably end up being called 'Garnier's Glory' or some similar convenient invention.


23rd August 2020

Hedychium gardnerianum BSWJ.2524 .
The Hedychium that have been planted out shrugged off the passing storm and used the lashing rain to bejewel their foliage with shining drops. I am glad that I finally planted them out, they are more compact, they look less starved and I have more space in the greenhouse. Of the three advantages it is the last that has had the most impact. A bit more space has loosened the log-jam and allowed a lot more developing problems to be resolved. It may also be true that the ruthless determination that I developed while planting them has made it easier to plant out things that aren't pulling their weight indoors, 'Garnier's Glory' take note!
I know H. gardnerianum BSWJ.2524 as a tall, elegant plant with rounded leaves with a crisp white bloom on their undersides and on the stems. Planted in the garden this Crug Farm collection has been shorter and stouter without any reduction in flower power. If we are spared any arctic winters it will be an outstanding plant for the late summer border.


23rd August 2020

Hoya carnosa .
I'm not sure how other people's minds work, I'm not particularly confident of the process in my own so I am hesitant to generalise. However I think there may be some common factors at work. For example, I tend to categorise and group things and I do it in several different ways. Sometimes things are grouped by genus, sometimes by season or colour or habit. Some things are grouped by facilities. I can clearly remember a range of plants that I grew in my teenage greenhouse that I class as nostalgic juvenilia. Pilea for example and Lithops, Laelia and Plumbago, things that have no clear connection to anyone else, just things that I grew in that greenhouse at that time.
One of the problems with those informal categories is that they can mislead. All Aeschynanthus are tropical scramblers, all Cymbidium are tender along with all Begonia and all the perennial Impatiens, but they aren't. Finding cold tolerant members of heat loving genera is a fascinating adventure. I seem to have spent a lot of time killing tropical plants through the winter, just to be sure.
Hoya carnosa belongs in that juvenile greenhouse, along with a number of its variegated forms. All Hoya require heat in winter, everybody knows that. So I revisited Hoya carnosa with a mixture of feelings. I was assured that the plant I bought had been grown without heat in a poly-tunnel in Somerset. I had some doubts but I was wrong. It has prospered in the greenhouse to such an extent that I need to consider planting it. I don't think I can try it outside but there must be a greenhouse strut somewhere that it could clamber up harmlessly.



23rd August 2020

Lapageria rosea .
Categories can be misleading. There are plants that can't be grown and plants that are easily grown that I fail with. I think Lapageria rosea falls into the latter category although it is often presented as inherently difficult. I don't think so, I just think I am bad at it. Really bad at it. However, the plants seem to hang on, they are clearly tenacious. I see them growing with untidy vigour in local gardens while they sulk in pots with me. One of the problems is that I keep them too dry. I have tried to correct it but old habits die hard. This year I moved them all so they were standing in water. They have responded by flowering. It isn't a long term solution, I may have to screw up my courage and plant them out, but it has cheered them up through the summer. Just like the Hoya, I was expecting them to be dead by now, flowers are a perplexing delight that challenges my preconceptions.