I took a trip to a neighbouring market town on Saturday, the plan being that I would install a wireless router in my Father-in-law’s office. This failed due to boring technical incompatibilities, and the trip would have been a complete waste of time and effort had it not been market day. A local nursery was selling a variety of locally grown plants, including an impressive array of cyclamen. I’ve never been very good at extending the flowering season into the winter months. In the past I have always told myself that the bare bones of shrubs and trees, the luminescence of the birch bark, the seed heads of the grasses, were more than sufficient until the spring bulbs emerged. Then last year I fell in love with some lipstick-pink cyclamen and planted them next to some heuchera where they could be seen from the kitchen window. I loved them, but they tended to fade away quickly into the late afternoon gloom. They also failed to reappear this year.
So when I saw pure white cyclamen selling at £6 for 5 plants, I couldn’t resist. I love the delicacy of the up-swept petals, the way the flowers are held above the white-veined leaves on slender stems. Up close they become rather strange. Clusters of buds held on not yet fully uncoiled stems resemble the heads of birds, even closer and to my mind they resemble furled umbrellas.
I reasoned that in pure white they should bring an evening glow to the gloom of that border, and make me smile as I washed up. They may even survive for more than one year. I haven’t planted them yet, as I want to plant bulbs at the same time, probably daffodil ‘Tête-á-Tête’, or possibly some crocus (assuming I can find any, apparently they are in short supply in the UK this year).