Black Country Bugle
THEY MAY LOOK DELICATE BUT CYCLAMEN ARE BORN SURVIVORS. PLANT NOW TO ENJOY THIS AUTUMN
OVER the next few months, largeflowered florist’s cyclamen will start to appear in garden centres and supermarkets.
They may be bright and cheery but they’re not the most subtle of the breed.
They are often planted in window boxes in London. Then those who live outside the capital are tempted to do the same, only to discover that they perish at the first sharp frost.
Florist’s cyclamen are not fully hardy and only the heat of the city encourages them to flower through winter.
But there are other cyclamen that are as tough as old boots and which, when planted out in the garden, will take the worst that the weather can throw at them without batting an eyelid.
The first to flower in autumn is the plant I used to buy as a nipper, Cyclamen neapolitanum.
One of the first Latin names I learned, it always reminded me of
Neapolitan ice cream.
But then the botanists told us to call it Cyclamen hederifolium which, instead of indicating its country of origin as the previous name did, tells us that its leaves are shaped like ivy.
They are attractively marbled too, but the autumn flowers are the real draw for this plant and they always catch me out – appearing before I expect them to and reminding me that winter isn’t far away.
The pale pink reflex-petalled flowers erupt in a miniature forest before the leaves.
They seem so delicate that they would wither away if you sneezed on them, but the truth is they’re tough little blighters.
Buy them growing in pots now and plant them 1ft apart so that
The pale pink flowers erupt in a miniature forest before the leaves
the fat corms sit only fractionally below the surface of the soil. They don’t like being buried too deeply. When these flowers fade, those of Cyclamen coum will follow in the dead of winter, proving that if you want blooms when most of the garden is asleep, cyclamen are the best choice. What’s more, if mulched with chipped bark, the seeds that fall between the chips will grow into more plants to increase your colony. How can you resist?