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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


13th September 2020

Dendrobium tetragonum var. giganteum .
The garden has been a rag-bag of surprises this week, the little details seem to have taken over. The broad sweeps of Roscoea purpurea that have dominated the benches continue to perform, the Hedychium are getting into their stride and the Nerine are flashing sunset colours throughout the day. In the cracks between the main events, Cyclamen intaminatum has produced a cluster of the daintiest flowers. I'm not good with Cyclamen so I'm surprised to see it alive. It looks a little surprised as well.
The weather has been lazy. Every time I feel like a cup of tea or coffee, the sun comes out to tempt me to sit in the garden. It is easy and satisfying. A few years ago I removed an ugly conservatory to give myself useful space outside in the sunshine. Less really is more.
Unless you are Dendrobium tetragonum. The species comes from Queensland and New South Wales where the small pseudobulbs dangle epiphytically from trees and produce clusters of yellowish flowers in winter and spring. I have one in the greenhouse. Small sums it up rather well.
D. t. var. giganteum is larger and the increase in scale in all its parts has a big impact on its appearance. Despite coming from Queensland in the northern (warmer) part of the range, it also seems to be more vigorous. I nearly missed the flowers, appearing unexpectedly at the start of the Dendrobium season.


13th September 2020

Hedychium 'Devon Cream' .
It is difficult to imagine that Hedychium could be subtle, they don't have that attitude. From the moment the new shoots appear in spring they are making a statement. The broad leaves that unfold through the course of summer are enough to create an exotic effect but the sturdy buds that appear in late summer leave you in no doubt that there is much more to come. If the last week in September was 'Hedychium week' then the effect would be overwhelming. Sadly the plants aren't as well co-ordinated as that. Stems will open at different times, the clumps sputter with spectacular colour, the odd puff of fragrance perfumes the air, but they are never entirely overwhelming.
'C. P. Raffill' was good in the garden last week, 'Tara' is looking good at the moment. 'Thai Spirit' is showing promise and a host of others have buds-in-waiting but the Hedychium garden is permanently "good in parts".
The situation in the greenhouse seems even more scattered. There is always a cane or two in flower but there is rarely more than that. Fortunately in the enclosed space the scent lingers so three flower heads on 'Devon Cream' are enough to fill the whole volume with sweet but spicy perfume. The creamy yellow flowers are produced reliably though they won't be appearing on plants outside for a few more weeks. Early flowers in the greenhouse are a prompt to start watching the buds swelling in the garden.


13th September 2020

Neomarica northiana .
My gardening is chaotic, it has always been so. I start by looking at the conditions I have, and then I look for plants that might suit the conditions. Then I walk away and leave them to get on with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and the line dividing the two things can be complex. Wild primroses thrive here, and I encourage them wherever they seem to want to grow. There is something very satisfying about a big tuft smothered in yellow flowers as the prima-donna snowdrops wilt. Cultivated primroses view the same conditions with distain. I have abandoned (almost) all attempts to understand it.
The herbaceous Iris grew well in the garden when it was mostly sunshine and wind, but as the tree cover took over they have expired. Pacific Coast Iris continue to thrill me in the greenhouse but I still have a few other sorts and I am left wondering why?
Then there are the Neomarica, Walking Iris from South America. Years ago I was sent a couple, almost by accident, and the collection has slowly grown in the same way. N. northiana was the latest to appear, a gift from a gardening friend (who was fed up with it). They have done unexpectedly well, thriving in similar conditions to the Sarracenia. This flower was another of, the surprises of the week. I hadn't noticed the spike developing and didn't see it until the flower was open. If the weather holds then repotting the Neomarica has come to the top of the list of things that need doing - a suitably esoteric occupation for a Sunday afternoon!



13th September 2020

Nerine 'Loch Spotal' .
I am sure that the Nerine haven't started yet. The greenhouse still looks bare. However I have taken fourteen pictures of plants in flower this week and that is how it starts. Next week I will have 50 pictures and still be convinced that nothing is happening. It is amazing that anything so loud can creep up on you so quietly.
Those that have flowered so far have been in the salmon-pink-cerise range. They are bright but not incendiary. 'Lock Spotal' is the first to take the idea of subtle flower clour and drop it emphatically in the dustbin. The bright orange midrib is bordered by darker stripes that emphasise its determination to zinginess. I continue to raise Nerine seedlings but am uncertain what I am looking for. I think I have reached the stage where I need to stand back and make a few very specific crosses. Fortunately I will have several weeks to work out what I am doing and why. By the end of the season I will have more seed than I know what to do with and the greenhouse will once again be groaning with promise for future years.
It has been a quiet week full of sunny moments and without storms. The Nerine are coming, the Neomarica need repotting and the sun is shining. It might just be the time to sit in a chair and watch it happen.