Friday, 23 September 2016

Colours of the Equinox

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
Difficulty Moderate


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.




37 comments:

  1. Oh, this post! Well, first -- I think I need to print that first paragraph out and put it on my inspiration wall because your writing about fall and how it differs from spring, the light and shadows -- it is sheer perfection. So thank you for starting my morning with that.

    And second, thank you for writing about cyclamen. I had no idea (silly me) that this plant could grow in the ground. Outdoors. You see them all the time as plants one brings as a host gift or a funeral plant and I've killed more than a few in my house as a plant but in the ground? They're so beautiful. I need to learn when I can plant them because if they can grown in your climate, I suspect they can grown in ours, between the 44th and 45th parallel. I love it when I'm both inspired and learn something the same day!

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  2. Oh, I do love Cyclamen, Friko, but I can not get them to grow where I live. They are popular inside winter plants here and I have tried to replant them outside come spring, but it has never worked. Your gardens look so very beautiful and must give you much joy.

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  3. Now I'm inspired to see if cyclamen will grow here. It's so incredibly lovely, and like Jeanie, I've never seen it growing in the ground. So beautiful! :-)

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  4. Friko, what good fortune to have birds helping with the magic that has cyclamen plants spreading their flowers across your garden! I don't actually think I knew of cyclamen plants before my first UK trip back in October 1975. I remember seeing them in lots of hanging baskets in London, and also growing in window boxes and in green squares around the city.

    On my most recent farmers market visit, I did seem some of the potted cyclamen that begin to show up around this time of the year. I usually try to buy at least one, and have used these lovely flowers as part of my annual Christmas tea cup designs.

    Yes...I am a cyclamen fan! xo

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  5. hmmm, I wonder if hardy cyclamen will do down here. they are an annual here, not a perennial. too hot in the summer? not cold enough in the winter? I don't know but yours are lovely.

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  6. 100 frost free days where I live ... and let me tell you, it is a real growing frenzy ... cauliflower, peas, green beans, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, tomatoes, squash, corn, cucumbers, potatoes ... all row and flourish like crazy in this small window of weather ... it's a lovely time of year, friend Friko ... now we have night frost, and old man winter will be lodging with us for the next 5 months ... Love, cat.

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    1. ... sorry, my comment is quite a bit besides the point you are making, friend Friko ... if I was in grade school the teacher would say to me: Good article, but it's an F cuz totally beside the point ... ya ... smiles ... Love, cat.

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  7. Cyclamen, fall anemone. wonderful after a hot summer.

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  8. It's a time of year that I love very much, although it usually puts me in a rather nostalgic mood. Part of me does not want summer to end (it arrived here late enough!), while at the same time I do look forward to all the Gem├╝tlichkeit of coming home after a late afternoon walk in autumn, and the abundance of berries, fruits, nuts and mushrooms out there with such fantastic colours and a kind of light you do not see in the other seasons.

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  9. That is a new sight for me. I don't know if it is hearty enough for this climate. I must find out.

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  10. What a super show of cyclamen! It must like you.

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  11. Oh how lovely. Our Spring cyclamen are in bloom at the moment. I hope that in time the drifts spread and multiply as these have.

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  12. Here the do well right over winter and as we enter spring, our potted cyclamen on the balcony are still doing well. It's not to say they don't grow outdoors here in the soil, but I have not seen them.

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  13. I can't even imagine how beautiful these must be. Oh to live in such a place where such things bloom. I am tempted to try to plant some. I wonder if our climate is too dry, or will the deer eat them. I have some snowdrop anemones that I planted. I am just hoping they come back.

    My mother grows such beautiful potted cyclamens. Alas, I'm never very successful with houseplants.

    Thank you for sharing Wadsworth with us. I so enjoyed reading it.

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  14. Oh, my! I have one lone hardy cyclamen that returns year after year but doesn't multiply. Still, it's always a welcome sight.

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  15. Hi Friko - what a lovely post ... reminding us of Wordsworth's words - September has been like that this year ... that icy blast is building up its strength. Gorgeous photos you've shared with us ... your cyclamen look amazingly happy and settled ... their colours are beautiful aren't they. I used to take indoor cyclamens in to my mother - they have such gorgeous scents ... Wonderful post - thank you ... Hilary

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  16. Friko, I so enjoyed your post. Not only the photos of your beautiful cyclamen, but your words, the way you describe the world in autumn, the changes... it's simply beautiful. As someone with English as a second language as well I admire how you have mastered it - I still have a long way to go.

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  17. You have the soul of a poet!! The cyclamen are breathtaking. I didn't know there was a difference between the indoor and outdoor varieties. What a blessing the outdoor cyclamen are so hardy and strong. And they are truly a gift for late in the year when the seasons are changing. Loved this post.

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  18. Your prose reads like a poem - an ode to autumn. Our nights are too cold even in summer for cyclamen. Today, my garden is covered in snow. I always love seeing yours in bloom.

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  19. I absolutely love your writing, especially when you speak of the outdoors. So lovely.

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  20. what lovely crocuses, or is that croci?

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  21. I'm not sure I've ever seen cyclamen growing as yours are. They're commonly used here by landscapers and gardeners as winter bedding plants, along with pansies and certain begonias. But, they're taken out and on their way by March or April, as it gets too hot for them after that.

    We're all so eager for a bit of cooler weather. I was out this morning on the prairie, and after three hours was completely soaked through with sweat: more because of the high humidity than the temperature. "They" are hinting at a frontal passage this week. We'll see. In the meantime, I read posts like yours, celebrating the treasures of autumn, and sigh and grumble, just a bit. Like an over-staying houseguest, it's time for summer to move on down the road. It's been fun, but enough is enough.

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  22. From Wordworth's poetry to your own lyrical prose, this is a hymn to Autumn - especially your own lovely words. This is my favorite time of year; a slowing down of nature. Cyclamen - on my list.

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  23. No cyclamen grows in my garden, but bright patches of it line the path in our walk through a wooded area. They bloom there now, such pretty things. Your patch is beautiful!

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  24. Your cyclamen patch is lovely. What a beautiful tribute Autumn Friko, I enjoy reading your blog.

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  25. What a beautiful show of cyclamen. Quite inspiring! Perhaps I'll plant some in the 'woodland' side of my garden.

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  26. They are such a bright and cheery sight at this time of year. I see little clumps on my walks - a sweet surprise of pink or white.

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  27. Lovely post and thanks much for sharing the information on these beautiful flowers. I don't know that they would thrive in my heat, no evidence of cooling autumnal temperatures here at all...Best to you and I'm happy to see you enjoying the change of season.

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  28. Friko, your writing is as lovely (and hardy) as your cyclamens. I'm off to the local nursery to see if they have them for sale there. Then, when I see them massing their flowers in fall, I will remember the far away friend who introduced them to me!

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  29. I remember being in hospital a few years back a and a friend brought a pot of deep crimson cyclamens in to meet me. Loved them then. Love your spectacular showing.
    XO
    WWW

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  30. That must be the best carpet of cyclamen I have ever seen! How wonderful, and i'm not surprised you love looking at it. I am now wondering, though, which variety of cyclamen I have just bought. It will have to stay outside, now. I will find out in due course if that was the right thing to do!

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  31. What beautiful flowers and colour. Our garden is beginning to look windswept and bereft. No matter. Autumn is well and truly here and winter will come despite us.

    Blessings from Dalamory

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  32. Your garden is a beautiful place. So blessed are you to live there.

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  33. Most beautiful! I think I shall look for cyclamen in the local nurseries; they look delightful.

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  34. I love fall-blooming flowers; they're always such a surprise, just when you think the blooming is set to wind down.

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  35. You make fall sound beautiful. I like it too but I prefer summer with it long days and warm nights.

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