By Debra Knapke
Winter is a contemplative time. In December, we often look back at the year and consider what we have or haven’t done… In January, we look forward.
We have completed our first year as bloggers and it has been a wonderful experience. Planning together and writing together has been an incredible learning opportunity. No minuses; only pluses. Thank you Teresa and Michael!!
Here is the first plant portrait for 2013: hardy cyclamen – Cyclamen hederifolium
Winter interest: to some it may seem an oxymoron, but I look forward to winter in my garden. The bed edges create flowing pictures on the land. Small plants and tree outlines create an other-worldly picture. One of my favorite small plants is the hardy cyclamen. A tuberous plant that has its seasons switched based on what we Midwestern-ers define as the garden season. Imagine hundreds of nodding upside-down flowers emerging, without leaves, in late August /early September. The marbled leaves create a beautiful tapestry in mid to late September and remain in the garden until late May/early June or whenever our heat hits. Then they go into a period of dormancy.
This is not a plant for the impatient gardener. I planted my original 15 tubers in 1995. You will see single flowers and small groupings of leaves for two to four years until the tubers increase in size and seed dispersed from the flowers grow into more tiny tubers. But the display is worth the wait.
Hardy cyclamen flowers are either pink or white. Most of my flowers are white, but some are shaded pink to deep pink. Siting is very important. These diminutive plants should be nestled under a tree in an area that is sloped and drains well. Wet sites will result in rotting tubers. Avoid sunny western-facing sites as the leaves will burn. Watering is an issue if we have a dry summer – which is the norm rather than the exception. I will water the area once or twice in August to get a better flower show.
One more tip: when you plant, slightly tilt the tubers so water drains out of the slight depression that can be on the top of the tuber.