Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Gift for Autumn

Last Friday, as I walked through the Woodland, I noticed four of the cyclamen in the Woodland were blooming. When I returned after a 3 day week-end, there were forty. In another few weeks, there will be closer to 400 or more. These little harbingers of autumn are so delicate, you would expect them to bloom in the summer, but in a turn of the clock, they start blooming in fall and often bloom well into the winter. The variety I’m talking about is cyclamen hederifolium or, literally ivy leaved cyclamen. The foliage emerges not long after the flowers and is patterned in silver. The foliage will last long after the flowers fade, finally disappearing in the late spring as it goes dormant for the summer.
These little beauties grow off of a corm that can start out the size of a cherry pit and eventually become as large as a saucer. They don’t tolerate much water in the summer, while they are dormant, so put them in a spot away from the irrigation.
I buy them in the winter and plant them in our planters by the front door, then when they fade, I take them down to the woodland and tuck them in with the rest of the patch.
By spring, you will notice seed pods the size of a small marble attached to tendrils wrapped up like a spring. The seeds are often carried off by insects, such as ants that eat the waxy coating and then drop the rest of the seed along the trail back to the ant nest, so it is not uncommon to find a line of cyclamen seedlings leading away from the original patch. Since the little darlings seed so freely, you will soon have a respectful patch without any large investment.