In his poem 'September 1815' Wordsworth has it that
While not a leaf seems faded, while the fields,
With ripening harvest prodigally fair,
In brightest sunshine bask, this nipping air,
Sent from some distant clime where Winter wields
His icy scimitar, a fortaste yields
Of bitter change . . . . .
Yet, there is still colour to be had in the garden. True, with the sun’s rage mellowing, summer has vanished, afternoon shadows grow long and there is a definite nip in the air when day lowers itself into the horizon. Autumn birdsong is less noisy, sweeter, more leisurely than the sounds of Spring, when the season's work must still be done. It’s the brief moment before trees wear the red, gold and amber uniform of Autumn and, finally, small beacons of light, the autumn bulbs, corms and tubers beloved of gardeners everywhere, come into their own.
For me the arrival of cyclamen is a pleasure every year at this time. I almost forget them, until I see the ivy-like leaves appear and wait for the curled stems to deliver on their promise, and produce dainty, delicately leafed flower heads.
The sight of a mass of cyclamen in full flower is enough to take your breath away. As if by magic, the carpet of white, pink and purple blooms of cyclamen hederifolium reappears year after year, the individual tubers becoming as large as plates eventually. I didn’t plant many originally, in fact, only a very few of them; I must have been assisted generously by ants, birds and self-seeding, because new flowers, at first just one or two blooms, grow in all sorts of rocky cracks and shady nooks where none were before. There are varieties that flower in Spring but I love my autumnal show. September, October and sometimes into November is the time for cyclamen, when many other plants have lost interest and withdraw into themselves, prepare for the first cold winds of winter and huddle together in brown clusters.
For those of you who might like to try and grow cyclamen, here are a few facts from the website of the Royal Horticultural Society:
A delightful tuberous perennial providing colour often when little else is flowering, particularly in late winter or early spring. Hardy cyclamen species and cultivars are ideal for naturalising under trees, on banks or in a shady border and planted in association with other early-flowering woodland plants such as snowdrops, winter aconites and primroses
Common name Sow bread
Botanical name Cyclamen
Group Tuberous perennial
Flowering time Mostly autumn and winter
Planting time Autumn, winter (when ground is not frozen) and early spring
Height and spread 5-13cm (2-5in) by 8-15cm (3-6in)
Aspect Partial shade
Hardiness Fully to frost hardy
PS: After reading the first comments, I think I need to add a PS. Indoor and outdoor cyclamen are slightly different varieties. The plants you buy in pots for the house need cool rooms, warm central heating will kill them, so keep them in a coolish corner. The indoor varieties will not survive outdoors. The outdoor varieties are fully hardy, down to frost and snow, they won’t like being brought indoors.