How can you not fall in love with the exquisite gems of the species cyclamen? C.hederifolium is the first of the season to flower, opening up its dainty pink or white butterflies in late summer and continuing all through autumn, at which time it also puts out its decorative, heart-shaped, mottled dark green and silver leaves which will stay fresh until spring.
Technically, cyclamen are tubers though most gardeners will call their circular, flattish heart a bulb. The origins in Southern Europe through to Turkey and even North Africa give a clue to conditions – tolerant of both heat and cold, fine in poor stony conditions but not keen at all on wet conditions. Despite our high rainfall climate, we find they thrive in our elevated rockery and even tucked on the side of our gravel driveway.
If you can’t find them for sale, cadge fresh seed later in the season from somebody who has them. The distinctly overblown cyclamen widely sold as suitable gifts for mothers, aunts and invalids are grotesque parodies of the charming species from which they have descended.