My garden has been neglected this month, to say the least. Whether distracted by business or the holidays, my free time has been absorbed by many things other than garden care. However, my garden has clever ways of reminding me it is still there and lately it is Cyclamen who have garnered my attention. Their leaves and flower buds are popping up everywhere.
I first encountered hardy Cyclamen in Bavaria. My girlfriend and I were driving to Bad Reichenhall in Germany when we came across Thumsee, a beautiful lake and popular swimming hole, just west of the city. We parked the car and decided to take a hike on a path around the lake. While dodging a group of nude seniors who were trying to coax us into the water, we stumbled upon, quite literally, a patch of blooming cyclamen. The flowers were tiny, but the tubers can grow to be quite large and here they emerged from the soil like bulbous rocks. The flowers had delicate wing-like petals, but what struck me most, was that among the cyclamen patch where distinct groups whose leaves had different markings from the next. I was hooked.
According to The Cyclamen Society, “The genus is notable for the fact that although it is small, there are species which flower in every month of the year”. The thing I find most interesting is the important role of ants in the germination process of many Cyclamen seeds. Ants are attracted to a sticky coating on the seeds, so they collect seeds from the plant and carry them away, often to their home. There they eat the sticky coating and then discard the seed. Oddly, it is the removal of this coating that makes the seeds particularly viable for germination.
Below is a time lapse video I found on YouTube of a Cyclamen blooming. Enjoy!