Oregon Garden With Cyclamen

In my garden one of the joys of autumn is Cyclamen neapolitanum, a small hardy relative of the larger florist’s cyclamen. Dainty, soft pink to pale lavender pink flowers appear like a flock of butterflies in late August or early September and last until hard frost. There is also an ethereally lovely pure white, C. neapolitanum album.

The foliage looks like English ivy. It is a leathery dark green with white veinings. After the flowers fade and sometimes with the later flowers, the handsome evergreen leaves appear and persist all winter until early summer when they disappear for a couple of months.

Seed is produced freely. The stems holding the seedpods coil under like springs until the pods touch the ground where they lie, protected by the leaves, until they ripen the following summer. Seed is the only means of propagation as there are no cormlets. The corms produce no young but enlarge year by year and produce more and more flowers as they grow older. Corms 75 years old and bearing over one hundred flowers at one time are known in England. In my Oregon garden I have several plants raised from seed. These have been blooming for 15 years and have 20 to 30 blossoms at a time.

My cyclamen grow in a shady spot under Douglas firs. A slight slope in a shady part of a rock garden is ideal or use rocks for landscaping. I use well-drained woodsy loam and add a little lime each season. The important thing is to have light, leafmoldy, well-drained soil. Corms should be planted with their crowns level with the surrounding soil. A covering of pine or fir boughs may forestall winter heaving but usually a cover is unnecessary as this cyclamen is very hardy here.

Established plants seed themselves prolifically. One can find tiny plants all around the parent. These may be transplanted to make new colonies. One never seems to have too many of these lovely flowers, especially the white form which is rather scarce. This is harder to raise than the pink form although, once at home, it is as hardy as the commoner type.

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