Surprises at Times Come in Small Packages

Tucked near the 30-some-year old boxwoods in our front yard, we have a forgotten magical patch. Not only is it forgotten, but neglected too; because, over the course of time, the area has been walked upon to the extent that except for some weeds, it generally stays bare, and just recently, has had clayey dirt piled all around when a portion of the bed was dug due to a plumbing problem. Yet every year, right as summer comes to an end, as though on a cue, dozens of dainty flowers in the prettiest shade of pink pop up, making me smile from ear to ear! The source, incidentally, of this simple but delightful pleasure, is the tubers of hardy cyclamen I planted a long time back.

A hardy perennial, Cyclamen hederifolium, commonly called the baby or hardy cyclamen, is grown from flattened tubers that are rather long-lived, for which the ones planted in our garden are obviously an endorsement. While my memory fails to retrieve the year they were planted, I do remember reading two interesting comments in the chapter on hardy cyclamen in Nancy Hugo’s book, titled Earth Works (The University Press Of Virginia, 1997): first is to plant the tubers rather shallow, and second, which is very unusual, is to plant them upside down, meaning the root side up. Needless to say, I followed the tips to the last detail!

The flowers, which are barely an inch in size, appear before the foliage does and are borne on wiry stalks that, once flowering is over, coil down to the ground to release the mature seeds. Besides, though the delicate flowers are the ones that provide the serene beauty, the heart-shaped silver green foliage is equally attractive. In fact, those who like to make flower designs find the size and shape of the leaves very appropriate to conceal the floral foam.      

Hardy cyclamen likes to grown in a humus-rich soil that has good drainage and at locations that are partially shaded; also, once settled, the tubers can be left alone for a long time to come.

Left the hardy cyclamen alone I surely have, only to relish the magic when the time is right.

Gita’s Tip of the Month: Looking for a tree or a shrub to add to the landscape for fall color? Now is a good time to select one, as the leaves are beginning to flaunt their gorgeous autumn colors. | 751-0421


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