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JEARRARD'S HERBAL


Thats enough introduction - on with the plants!
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... out in the garden.

28th August 2016

Cyrtanthus elatus
Summer weather has returned but it has a different feel. This is not the sweltering summer of July, but the last dregs of heat dripping from the bottle of August. Everywhere there are bulbs springing up. I have just seen the first Colchicum at Rosemoor and the blackberries are glowing darkly from the hedgerows. I have relaxed in the idea that the water resevoirs will be full now until next summer but it is just about possible that a dry September might cause problems. Watching the worries of watering reduce is one of the earliest signs of winter and the only one that is really welcome.
Cyrtanthus elatus comes from the southern tip of South Africa, particularly in the Outeniqua Mountains near George. In its natural habitat it grows at moderate altitudes in dry soils, often among broken rock, but it cultivation is is almost exclusively found growing in care-worn clay pots on sunny windowsills. Certainly that is the only habitat where it seems to flower reliably. Mine grows in a large tub in the greenhouse and it has been suggested that it is unlikely to flower freely until it fills it. I have a few years to wait. In the meantime an occasional spike is fair reward for the tiny effort I put into cultivating it.


28th August 2016

Eucomis montana
My greenhouse is like a squirting cucumber. Ecballium elateritum is a fun little thing. As the fruits ripen in the later summer, they suddenly squirt their seeds out in a stream of goo over all and sundry. Well, the greenhouse has been ripening. As the warmth of summer started to build, out squirted the Eucomis all over the beds, a stream of Pineapple Lilies.
And outside they will be staying. The greenhouse was too dry for them, and within weeks of standing in the sun (and occasional rain) they were looking better than they have for years. My plan is to gather them all together under a tarpaulin in December, and uncover them again in March. They should all be hardy, but a bit of rain protection isn't going to hurt in the first year.
Eucomis montana has a strange look among the others. The purple anthers are fused in a ring giving the flower a dark eye. The spike has a much smaller tuft of leaves on the top than is usual which changes its visual impact.


28th August 2016

Hedychium RF 134
A few years ago I was given a couple of Hedychium plants grown from seed collected by Dick Fulcher. Hedychium leaves are many things, large, tropical looking, lush but for my purposes here they are also pretty much indistinguishable. So I have had two pots of Hedychium leaves, slowly increasing in size, for a couple of years and my attention has wandered, as it often does, to other things.
Suddenly attention is snatched back again to the subject. One of the plants has flowered, and when I saw it I was perplexed. I couldn't remember having a division of H. wardii in the greenhouse. Perhaps I have been sleep-propagating again? A closer look and I noticed that the stems had a pinkish tinge quite unlike my typical H. wardii and that was when I went rummaging around for a label.
This seems to be a new introduction of H. wardii with more colour in the stems and possibly more compact with a broader labellum, but this is a first flowering so nothing is certain. This one will get the full hand pollination treatment, because that is the only way I seem to get seed on the species. It is happy to set seed, it just likes a hand. Perhaps there is a big yellow butterfly in habitat that does the job. Of those attributes, I suppose I can manage big!



28th August 2016

Hibiscus militaris
The idea of Hibiscus is deeply tropical, supported on the legion of H. rosa-sinensis cultivars that create astonishment as houseplants at the end of summer. Their cultivation has been fanned into a forest-fire of insanity in South Florida. My mouth waters with anticipation, or is it senility? Something very Floridan about that as well.
Unfortunately in the UK it is only really H. syriacus that is hardy. I say unfortunately, because no shrub was ever less flamboyantly tropical than H. syriacus. It oozes the essence of cough-sweets and drawer lining paper. It is the hokey-cokey in a genus of Argentinian Tangos.
For my tropical fix I am forced to look at the odds and ends that come between the two extremes. H. militaris grows along the eastern side of North America, dying down to a perennial rootstock in the winter and preferring wet locations and summer heat. I was offered some seed, and have kept it in the greenhouse to ensure it stays warm enough.
It is large, it is flamboyant, it looks distinctly tropical, and it probably isn't H. militaris, which usually has a darker eye.
It's lovely. That will have to be enough for now.


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Acorus Alocasia Anemone Arisaema Arum Asarum Aspidistra Begonia Camellia Cautleya
Chlorophytum Clivia Colocasia Crocosmia Dionaea Disa Drosera Epimedium Eucomis Fuchsia Galanthus
Hedychium Helleborus Hemerocallis Hepatica Hosta Impatiens Iris Liriope Nerine Ophiopogon Polygonatum
Ranunculus ficaria Rhodohypoxis Rohdea Roscoea Sansevieria Sarracenia Scilla Tricyrtis Tulbaghia Watsonia

To find particular groups of plants I grow, click on the genus name in the table above. Click on the "Index" box at the top of the page for the full list.
I have a lot of good intentions when it comes to updating this site, and I try to keep a note about what is going on, if you are interested.
If you want to contact me, the address is incompetentjohnMONKEYjohnjearrard.co.uk
When typing the address in, please replace MONKEY with the more traditional @ symbol! I apologise for the tiresome performance involved, but I am getting too much spam from automated systems as a result of having an address on the front page.

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