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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


30th August 2020

Angelica sylvestris 'Ebony' .
August has leapt into the heart of autumn like a lazy cat into a comfy chair. Last week's storm has been followed by another, the rain crashed down, the wind rocked the trees and the cat slept soundly. I don't have a cat of course, it is entirely a metaphorical feline.
I keep finding fallen branches around the garden and looking for places to hide them. Most of it has been dead timber that snaps easily and gets scattered around the windbreak to entertain the wide diversity of recycling organisms that I am told delight in such things. I rarely see anything, perhaps an occasional toadstool, but slowly the timber seems to reduce. One or two live branches have been snapped off and are found on the ground wilting and looking folorn. They go the same way but they look more tragic with the dying leaves clinging to the stems.
The herbaceous border is being gently overgrown. I went through it a couple of months ago removing the worst of the unwanted growth and meant to come back and finish the job at some stage - perhaps during those long summer evenings. It didn't happen. So now I am enjoying Angelica 'Ebony', the dark stems support heads of pink flowers that seem to push through the undergrowth. They give the whole thing a certain poise and sense of structure. They trace elegant dark shadows over the rain-pummelled grasses to great effect.


30th August 2020

Roscoea purpurea rubra NCCPG clone.2 .
Some of the best things are sheltering in the greenhouse. A few weeks ago I planted out a lot of Roscoea into the new herbaceous border. I didn't get them all in, it is a job that will have to be revisited, but I made a start. They are all lying flat now. The border is exposed to the wind and rain and the sheaves of green are flattened against the bare ground. I say bare, it was bare when I planted them. Now there is a bubbling encrustation of annual weeds but it will be dealt with before long.
Roscoea in the greenhouse have fared better and the late summer show is reaching a peak. Autumn may have gripped the garden but it hasn't quite broken into the greenhouse yet. I have a lot of red seedlings of Roscoea purpurea, mostly of my own raising, but I find it difficult to resist other peoples if they are good. This one came from a Plant Heritage sale in Devon and at the time I liked the salmon flowers supported on dark red stems. As time has gone on I have come to appreciate the vigour with which it grows and divides. It is satisfyingly clumpy even in a pot.


30th August 2020

Hedychium densiflorum 'Assam Orange' .
Hedychium densiflorum 'Assam Orange' is slowly doing a similar job in the garden. I needed something to terminate the path to the top of the garden. It is a difficult position beneath a large Leyland Cypress and a couple of Hawthorns. Unfortunately there was a gap under the branches that looks as though the path continues. Trompe l'oeil effects are all very well, but this just looked unfinished. At the same time I had a lot of Hedychium looking for a home and the two things came together. It was a little tentative at first, the Hedychium took a while to establish in the dry shade but after a couple of years it has started to fill the gap.
I haven't solved the winter gap yet. An evergreen Hydrangea has been very slow to establish and the daffodils I have put in resent the shade, however I am sure that chance will eventually deliver the perfect solution. If the worst comes to the worst I will plug the gap with a seat.



30th August 2020

Gladiolus carmineus .
The Nerine greenhouse is full of frustrating promise. One or two early flowers have appeared but most of the plants are still sending up young flower spikes. I know that when it starts it will all happen at once and I will yearn for the slow days of waiting when there is still time to wander at leisure looking at the details, but I am greedy. I want it now.
Alongside the Nerine I grow a small selection of other bulbs that seem to do better here than anywhere else. Their number has reduced over the years, slowly edged out by the Nerine but Gladiolus carmineus still makes full use of its space. I have half a dozen flower spikes this year that are taunting the tardy Nerine with their bright colour. The leaves grow through the winter much like the Nerine, and die off at about the same time at the end of April. The flower stems appear suddenly out of the bare ground in the autumn, either because the temperature drops or because I remember to water the pot.
It won't last long and the Nerine are approaching their flashpoint but for a moment it has filled the place with seasonal cheer.