Gardens, Plant of the month

Plant of the month – July 2018 – Rosa ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’

Order: Rosales           Family: Rosaceae           Subfamily: Rosoideae            Genus: Rosa

Type: Perennial          Propagation: Seed, plant propagation, cuttings, grafting

Native to: Mostly Asia, some Europe and North America

I love roses, especially the ones who live in my garden. Yet few are the ones who manage to create an attachment as strong as the one I feel for my ‘Souvenir du Docteur Jamain’. It was love at first sight and my passion never abated, even after all these years. Yet he is not easy to love. The word temperamental comes to mind: not too much sun or the petals will bleach in disgust; not enough food and it will drop down two sizes in protest; every so often it will decide not to open its buds after all and every now and then it will take on the latest fashion of black polka dots on a mid-green foliage background. And yet, and yet… the deep crimson purple and the divine perfume, the double structure giving a peep of the orange-yellow stamen when it feels like it, the velvet petals, thick and smooth… Everything about this doctor speaks to me of the perfect dream rose. Even the name is dark and mysterious. It implies that the good doctor is dead and that he is remembered fondly… Who was this regretted Docteur Jamain and what happened?

I found some answers in a delightful article written by Darrell G H Schramm for the American Rose Society. I remember reading it a while ago and loving the poetry and playful passion with which it was written. The article is no longer online but Crystal, from the society, was very kind to send me a copy. Thank you Mr Schramm for your beautiful words.

Alexandre Jamain was born on the 18th of March 1816. He was the son of Dupuy Jamain, a French horticulturalist who also had a rose named after him. His father’s occupation is probably how our Docteur developed a taste for roses and might also be how he came across François Lacharme (1817-1887), the French “rosieriste” behind the Roses Noisettes series. Docteur Jamain seemed to have many talents when it came to medicine: starting his career as a generalist, he wrote essays and pamphlets and books about surgery, ophthalmology and conditions of the scrotum. Quite a range. He died on the 12th of December 1862, aged only 46 years old. I can find no record of what happened to cause this early death. François Lacharme bred the rose in 1865, three years after the doctor’s death. What noble deed inspired a man who never named a rose after himself to name his most beautiful creation after our doctor?

‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’ is a good candidate for a north-facing wall, as it doesn’t need much sun and the deep claret colour tends to fade when overexposed.

The flowering starts in May/June and gently keeps going until September/October, a few flowers at the time. It is a bush but can also be trained as a climber, up to 3 metres with support. The almost thorn-free stems are flexible so it can be trained in any way you like.

Rarely have I seen such a velvety rose and the scent will make you weak at the knees. It is a perfect rose scent, rich and voluptuous, heavy yet fresh. You get one sniff and you go “mmmhhhh”, you just can’t help it.

So yes, ‘Souvenir du Dr Jamain’ is a bit of a drama queen and will need some care to thrive. Then again, who doesn’t? Its shadowy beauty is reward enough, as I am reminded every time I gaze at him in admiration and its exquisite perfume is brought to me on a random breeze…

Gardens, Plant of the month

Plant of the month – April 2018 – Muscari

Order:                   Asparagales

Family:                  Asparagaceae

Subfamily:            Scilloideae

Genus:                  Muscari

Common Name:   Grape Hyacinth

Type:                      Perennial bulb

Soil:                       Chalk, clay, sand, loam

Ph:                         Acid, alkaline, neutral

Aspect:                  Full sun / partial shade

Propagation:         Seed of bulb division

Native to:               Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia

It is always nice to start the gardening season with a new obsession.

For the spring of 2018 I present you the Muscari!

I never really noticed Muscari before. A couple of years ago I was given a clump of the Muscari in-a-cute-wicker-basket variety. As I used it to adorn my dining room table, I got to gaze at it quite a bit. Day after day, it went from “Meh!” to “It’s actually quite cute” to “I like it” to “I have to paint this”… Good progress. When it faded I planted it out and forgot about it. This year it suddenly exploded. There is Muscari all over the garden and I love it. It is also loved by bees, which is always a good speciality to have on your CV if you’re a plant and you wish to live in my garden.

The name Muscari derives from the Latin word ‘muschos’, meaning ‘musk’, referring to the flower’s strong scent. When I read that I went to the garden to check, because I had never noticed any perfume emanating from my table display… I had to go down on all four to get to Muscari level (roses are a lot more cooperative when it comes to getting a sniff), so while I was down there I took some photos. The smell is similar to hyacinth, albeit a less overpowering version.

Although Muscari is not a truly native plant, it has been cultivated in the UK since 1576. The Muscari genus was formally established by Scottish botanist Philip Miller in 1754. It is now widely naturalised and is by many considered to deserve its “native” status.

Of course I wasn’t able to stick to the common species… I had to find out about fancy ones. There are about 40 of them. I bought Muscari latifolium “Grape Ice”. The bottom flowers are dark purple, moving up to blue, then green, topped up with a tuft of white sterile florets. Let’s hope it spreads as easily as Muscari neglectum.

 

I haven’t painted it yet, but I have prepared a drawing of Muscari neglectum, so hopefully it will happen soon…

 

Happy gardening!

Gardens, Plant of the month

Plant of the month – July 2016 – White lavender

Order:Lamiales Family:Lamiaceae Subfamily:Nepetoideae Genus:Lavandula
Type: Hardy to tender, annual to perennial herbaceous plants or small shrubs
Propagation: Cuttings or Seed (won’t come true in hybrids)
Native to: Mediterranean Europe, Middle East and India

Every year I have a new craze for my garden, a plant I never noticed before or didn’t use to like, which suddenly becomes an essential part of my big plan. Last year it was Sedums, the year before that it was passionflowers, and before that all sorts of Buddlejas in different shades of deep purples. These come and go on a backdrop of all times favourites such as Hydrangeas, roses and the lovely Verbena bonariensis.
This year is the year of the lavender. Probably influenced by my recent holiday in Ardèche, where the vast and lush garden was full of thriving lavender plants that attracted more insects of all varieties than all the other plants. I realised that lavender is beautiful, resilient, low-maintenance, can go a long time in the sun without need of watering and to state the obvious it really does smell lovely.
Like most gardeners I have had lavenders hanging around in the garden for as long as I can remember. However, I have no idea what their second names are and even when buying them myself, I picked randomly without realising the wide range of colours or forms that were available.
I don’t even remember buying the white lavender I chose for this July “plant of the month”. Surprisingly, it has a prominent place, in a border by the patio, next to the path, so the smell flutters up in exquisite waves when we walk by and brush our legs against the flowers. The perfume is strong and spreads easily but it is less medicinal, more floral than the purple lavenders I am used to. Unfortunately, because I haven’t been paying attention, I do not know the exact name of my white lavender. I expect that because I got it from a garden centre, it is probably one of the most common white, ‘Arctic Snow’ or perhaps ‘Alba’.

white lavender 1

Now that my interest is piqued, I am looking online to see what specialist nurseries are offering. I am finding some real beauties! I restrained myself so far and ordered just 4 varieties for now, to see how they will do in my garden. In a couple of days I am even going to visit a lavender farm somewhere around Alton.
In the meanwhile, I shall follow the advice I gathered online while looking up “lavenders” and harvest the seed heads in September to fill sachets for the lingerie drawers and the linen cupboard…

Happy gardening!

Somebody else likes having white lavender in the garden...
Somebody else likes having white lavender in the garden…

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Gardens, Plant of the month

Plant of the month – June 2016 – Rosa ‘Jasmina’

Order: Rosales       Family: Rosaceae     Subfamily: Rosoideae

Genus: Rosa          Type: Perennial        Propagation: Seed, plant propagation, cuttings, grafting

Native to: Mostly Asia, some Europe and North America

This rose is a spectacular rambler with such vivacity that I have to hack through it after the first flowering in order to stop it from invading the whole garden. She happily climbs up and runs along the wall, over the patio screen and flowing onto the trellis, shadowing the pavement on the other side. I can see that she is now making her way towards the arch, cunningly overtaking the passionflower, the honeysuckle and the Rosa ‘Calypso’.

The first flowering didn’t last very long this year because the rain spoiled the tightly wound flower. Once the water gets in, the flowers get heavy, droop and then rot quite quickly.

rosajasmina

There are many reasons for my liking this rose so much: the pale, delicate pink blush is the very picture of an English rose; the profusion of luminous blooms brightens up the patio, even in the shade; the sweet perfume is dizzying; the flowering goes on all summer, as long as I deadhead regularly and trim the long shooting arches; the sparrows love to play hide and seek in the tight foliage, feeling protected by the thorns and the intricate network of branches.

I also like the fact that it overflows over the garden wall. Sometimes as I walk to my car, I see people walking by on the pavement stop and stand on tiptoes to smell the blooms. I have even seen some of them cut a stem and take it away. I don’t mind… I like to share the beauty of Jasmina and it saves me some work when pruning time comes.

So if you are looking for a rambler with strong stems and an abundance of flowers, I would definitely recommend Rosa ‘Jasmina’. May she give you happiness for years to come.

Happy gardening!