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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


6th September 2020

Colchicum agrippinum .
Autumn has arrived. The weather forecasters have told me so and for once I am entirely in agreement. No storms rattling the trees and the sun has shone, but it has shone between the wisps of mist. The heat seems to have gone from it. I sat and read for a while in the garden yesterday and just occasionally the sun was too bright on the white page. A large drop of rain landed in the middle of the book. Just a single drop, but it was enough to move me inside. Evenings are still mellow, nights are still warm but I have washed my thick fleece knowing that it will be needed before long.
All around the garden there are bulbs from mediterranen climates that have slept soundly through ther heat of summer. The first touch of autumn has wakened them in a burst of floral enthusiasm. I don't really have the climate for mediterranean bulbs but it is difficult to resist the promise of fresh flowers in September.
Colchicum agrippinum is the first of its genus to flower here, it serves as a stern reminder that I should have mowed through the woodland by now. I haven't. The plan is to get on with it over the next week ot two so that the Colchicum 'Waterlily' are clear of undergrowth when they emerge at the start of October. There's many a slip twixt cup and lip etc etc, it may not happen. It won't bother the plants, they will quietly get on with growing ready for next year, but it will reduce the impact of the display.
Colchicum agrippinum grows amongst the snowdrops. I had just cleared away the summer overgrowth when the first buds appeared. A second session will clear the ground of untidy debris ready for the appearance of the first snowdrops. There is nothing to see outside yet but the autumn snowdrops in the greenhouse are sure to appear shortly. I looked intently for the first signs of flower yesterday and saw nothing but they must be very close, sheltering just below ground ready for the big reveal.


6th September 2020

Cyrtanthus sanguineus .
The Nerine are inevitably the big news in the greenhouse. The early species are flowering and the first of the N. sarniensis forms have flower stems reaching into the air. N. s. corusca 'Major' opened yesterday among a group of "new bulbs" waiting for space in the main collection. I can't remember where I got it from but it isn't right. It should have rather loud orange flowers and this one is a much more pleasant carmine-red. With barely a pause for thought I pulled it out and planted it on the south wall of the house. It is unlikely to survive there but it isn't impossible. More importantly it is a confused identity that I won't have to waste any more time on. I am not always that decisive.
I have a number of Cyrtanthus species. It is a diverse genus and they seem to be scattered at random through the collection. Perhaps if I gathered them all together in one place I might have a clearer perception of their needs. As it is, the narrow leaves seem to appear on a whim and from time to time a flower spike emerges. In the case of Cyrtanthus sanguineus it is a magnificent thing that seems to have responded to the first heavy watering of autumn. I hadn't seen it for a few years and was sure that it had died but there were a few good bulbs in the pot when I knocked it out last year and they have appreciated some fresh compost.


6th September 2020

Hedychium 'C. P. Raffill' .
Autumn has arrived in the garden in the drooping bracken fronds, crisping brown at the edges. I don't have much bracken in the garden but there are a couple of places where it still has a toe hold. I cut it down in the summer to reduce its vigour but getting rid of it entirely takes more determined effort and that hasn't happened this year. The leaves of the first Hamamelis have burnished red. It isn't the colour of autumn yet, just the promise.
The Hedychium have prospered in as hot, wet summer. The early drought held them up a little but once the rain arrived they were away. H. 'C. P. Raffill' is making a good display. It is earlier and slightly paler than 'Tara' and it isn't supposed to be as hardy, however that hasn't made any difference here. It survived being frozen for a fortnight in March 2018 during the "Beast from the East" so I think it will be reliable. I planted a lot of other Hedychium around it last autumn and they all seem to have survived. It isn't going to be a spectacular season of flower just yet, but they are a lot hardier than I was expecting.



6th September 2020

Hyacinthoides lingulata .
Autumn creeps up on you. I looked out of the back door last night and it was dark. Lobelia bambuseti came up to the house in spring so that I remembered to water it. Now the round rosettes of leaves loom towards me in the light spilling from the door. It will have to go back to the greenhouse. We aren't due frost for a couple of months yet but I don't think it would take it very well.
The first burst of blue from the bulbs also caught me by surprise. Hyacinthoides lingulata has been growing away, almost forgotten, beside my potting bench. Suddenly it is adorned with flowers looking exactly like one of the spring squills. I dutifully weeded the pot and replaced it so that it doesn't get forgotten. During the summer I repotted Arum pictum to rejuvenate the congested clumps. I found a new spot for them on the bench but can't remember where I put them. It was somewhere very sensible but I think they are lost until the first flowers open. Any day now there will be the stench of returning memory to guide me. Mists and mellow fruitfulness, arums and Phallus impudicus, autumn has a complex smellscape to come.