autumn autumn colours colours flowering bulbs gardening Shrewsbury Shropshire

Cyclamen for Autumn

Jude, aka the Undergardener aka Mrs Greenbench, and I love special plants that give extra interest at their own specific times of the year. The Cyclamen we plant in pots each autumn fall into this category and they give exceptional interest with their flowers and their foliage despite their diminutive size. We also grow their relatives in our open garden. They are all tuberous plants and enjoy being grown in partly shaded patches of our garden. We have to make sure the soil is enriched in organic matter so we ensure the areas around them are well-mulched each spring.


Flowers and foliage are both unusual to look at, with unique colours, shapes and patterns. There are no two leaves the same on any plant, as they vary in shape, size, texture, colour and variegation. Their flowers appear like those of no other plant with fly-back petals giving an inside out look to each flower head. Can-can dancers!


We plant them in all sorts of containers with various partners to give added interest and then position the containers where they can be seen from our windows or doors during the colder months. They are there to cheer the garden up and make us smile!

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Visitors to our garden are greeted by seasonally changing plant boxes and cyclamen always find their way here in the autumn. They partner up with the smaller growing grasses particularly well increasing the beauty of both plants.

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Again they give warm welcomes to visitors as they arrive at the front door of Avocet.

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Alongside the driveway we grow them in galvanised containers with bronze-leaved grasses and variegated leaved ivies.

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Where more of our Cyclamen grow than anywhere else is in the Rill Garden where we get good views of them from the garden room double doors. Great big smiles on dull overcast winter days.

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In the borders we grow both Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen hederifolium in lightly shaded areas to give bright patches of colour, with C.coum blooming in the spring and C. hederifolium in autumn. A few plants will suddenly stop you in your tracks when you realise you now have a spreading patch.

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Garden Cyclamen have an unusual relationship with our garden ants too, which adds to their mystique. We notice seedlings appear in the strangest places often several feet from parent plants and it is hard to find any pattern to their distribution nor rhyme nor reason to their chosen new homes. Ants are the force behind our moving Cyclamen. The appearance of fresh plants in bizarre places show that some other force is at work as the plant itself could not possible have the power to send their heavy seeds so far. The Cyclamen coats its leaves in a sweet substance that is irresistible to ants who carry them off several metres resulting occasionally in their sudden appearance in hanging baskets, containers and odd corners of the garden. This relationship between ants and cyclamen is called “myrmecochory”, a suitably bizarre word for a bizarre phenomena. The photos below show four of the Cyclamen plants that have been seeded by our garden’s ants.

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Although it is primarily the crazy pinks and reds of the flowers that make us buy them, they are also great garden plants because of their unusual foliage. It is often quoted that no two leaves of these plants are ever the same! Below is an assortment of foliage belonging to our Cyclamen.

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Sadly the cyclamen growing in the wild are endangered following exploitation by ruthless bulb hunters who flooded the plant markets of Europe and America with them. They are now protected and this wild hunting is banned. New methods of propagation means that we now have so many beautiful variations available to us and the wild populations are increasing once again. So their future is bright – bright pink!



By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

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