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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


7th February 2021

Camellia saluenensis Trewithen Red .
It has been a week when spring tumbled out of the garden in reckless disorder. The temperatures have been high and the heavy rainfall has abated so the ground feels moist and nurturing rather than cold and suffocating. The first flush of snowdrops has hit a peak and there are daffodils appearing in all the little nooks and crannies. The forecast is suggesting that this benign period will be crowned in ice over the next few days and the chill has already started. Late yesterday afternoon I potted some Iris seedlings with gleeful enthusiasm. I had to take one of my pullovers off to work in the shelter of the greenhouse. Just one mind you, it wasn't warm but it had reached the temperature where the ears sit on the head without complaint. First thing this morning I shivered in a distinctly cold breeze when I went down there to put permanent labels in the pots. A couple of hours and a good breakfast later my ears are still gossiping about the experience.
One of the joys of the week has been Camellia saluenensis 'Trewithen Red', a small growing plant almost hidden behind a large growing Mahonia. Perhaps if I had planted them the other way around it would have been easier to see. As it is I seek it out, hungry for its saturated pinkness in the pale procession of spring. I grow C.s. 'Apple Blossom' beside it, much larger with shinier foliage and blushed white flowers. It has been blooming for a month now, quietly marking the arrival of a new year. It is lovely, but it isn't intemperate, unreasonable and uncompromising like 'Trewithen Red' . It is there, but I don't seek it out.


7th February 2021

Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' .
The big hellebore bed has started to grow. Discreet shoots are pushing up with camouflaged confidence waiting to burst into subtle colour. I should have been more ruthless when I planted it and restricted myself to white and yellow seedlings. As it is I planted them all. Even the pink ones disappear into the mossy woodland floor from a distance. I walk beside the border slowly, peering out to see if the buds have opened. There are some fabulous black seedlings in the mix that are barely visible, like the flickering black shadows behind a fire. I would miss them if they weren't there. After a few years I would miss them anyway.
Fortunately I had a jolly idea a few years ago, to carpet the ground beneath them with double snowdrops. They say that time is money, and it is certainly true of snowdrops. I could have spent a great pot of money and done the job in one go (no, I couldn't). I have chosen to plant a few and wait for the carpet to develop, it is a much slower process but it is starting to work. Apart from the saving in finacial terms it has another advantage, I dont have to spend endless days stooping over the bed planting them. I suppose that if I had the money to buy several thousand bulbs then I would have paid someone else to put them in for me. Somehow that feels like cheating.
The individual clumps are fattening up, soon it will be time to lift a few and split them but I am happy to put it off until a mild sunny day at the end of the flowering season. If that doesn't happen then I'm happy to just put it off.


7th February 2021

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' .
Spring is presented as a rolling process, a slow smoothing of the seasons. In the garden it is a sharper thing, a jangling pickle of angles and intensity. The birds are singing again, a wood pigeon has been huffing and puffing his way towards a song. He hasn't got it quite right yet but he's making progress. He always looks fat and smug, but this week he deserves to. The light is stronger, the sun has climbed higher. It is striking the garden in new ways, no longer oozing under the clouds like celestial drainage.
Hamamlelis bring early cheer into the spring garden, waiting for the new year to open their scented flowers. Their moderately scented flowers; cold weather doesn't do them any favours. Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' has come to a peak of performance as many of the earlier cultivars fade. It misses the thrill of early bloom, opening when the garden is already stirring from the flatness of winter, but the colour is intense. H. 'Ruby Glow' is earlier, but the colour doesn't sing, it just perches on the twigs like a cold robin.
I planted H. 'Diane' at the end of a row and as things have grown it has been a little squashed by a shrubby honeysuckle and an enthusiastic Camellia.It has responded by leaning languidly over the path, stretching indolently into the streaming sunshine.
It is almost hamamammalian.



7th February 2021

Narcissus cantabricus var. petunioides .
It doesn't take much spring sunshine to draw me out into the garden. I potter around aimlessly, poking at things as I go, storing up jobs that would be good to get done. That doesn't mean they will ever get done, just that it would be good if they were. Lethargy with intent, the very best sort in my opinion. When I get in I am often amazed by the quantity of garden that has accompanied me. Mud on the knees, old leaves and bits of twig stuck to my trousers, a bramble or a burr clinging to my fleece. It is a very adhesive garden.
In some ways the plants are the same. Many remain in their place but one or two stick to the mind and prick the attention. I have a very long history with Narcissus cantabricus petunioides, long decades have been spent not growing it. A couple of years ago I was offered a tatty pot of jumbled leaves at a plant sale. I think I paid two pounds. Any more than that and I would have been frightened. A long history of non-cultivation can make reality quite threatening. If it hadn't looked quite so tatty then it would have been intimidating. As it is, I handed over the coins and promptly filled with joy and anxiety.
I was wrong to worry, it has prospered. In my youth it seemed like a magical unicorn, part of a distant fantasy world. Perhaps I am just older, but I prefer to think that unicorns have simply become more tangible. The Narcissus is certainly a magical thing, as perfect as a distant dream realised, glowing in the sunlit greenhouse and yet still stuck tenaciously in the mind.