Monday, September 24

It all began with two

Many years ago we bought a couple of cyclamen hederifolium - one white and one pink.
The flowers appear at this time of year to be followed by the leaves later. The leaves are similar to ivy (hedera) which is where its name comes from.
Over the years these plants have spread all around the garden coming up in the most unlikely of places and have resulted in flowers in white and various shades of pink.
Some have even started to colonised the allotment plot no doubt transported by accident. The ones below growing in the grass are under our plum trees.
Some were purposely relocated on the plot and have built up into impressive clumps. Not only do the plants mass produce but the corms gradually grow to the size of dinner plates.
Now these plants have a lot going for them - lovely flowers and beautiful leaves - but you can have too much of a good thing. You may remember that earlier I started a pebble garden. Before the pebble garden took up residence this area was carpeted by self sown cyclamen as was the ledge just below. The third photo above is of the same area before it was cleared.
All the plants were dug up. I planted up as many cyclamen as I could in tubs - the idea being that maybe - just maybe - this way I could keep them under more control.
There were literally hundreds of plants so fortunately we also had friends who were only too happy to adopt some of the 'spare' plants.

From only two plants, how did we end up with so many? Well to start with I collected some seed and grew extra plants but really I needn't have gone to that trouble as the plants are only too ready to self propagate.

When the flower head dies the flower stem coils up like a spring and a seed capsule forms.
I can guess what you are thinking. You can be forgiven for assuming that the spring suddenly unfurls to catapult the seeds far and wide. The seeds are too big and heavy for that to work and so the plant relies on the help of ants to transport the ripe seeds. (Apparently this is called myrmecochory - glad I'm writing this and not saying it!). The seed capsule contains food for the ant  larvae so is carried away and later the seeds are discarded. If no obliging ant passes by the seeds germinate close to the plant which is what tends to happen in our garden so we end up with thickets.
I must be more diligent at weeding seedlings out in future!

You may remember that I grew some different types of cyclamen from seed last year One variety was another outdoor variety -cyclamen coum. As the plants raised are still very small they have been kept in the garden greenhouse but I noticed that one has produced its first flower. It's a different shape to hederifolium.
The leaves are different too less ivy shaped and more heart shaped.
I wonder whether these will be as prolific when they grow up?

As for the indoor cyclamen - well that's another post!

21 comments:

  1. Sounds as if this is one invasive plant whose invasions you have tolerated - welcomed even! I wonder why the flower-heads coil up like that. There must be a reason. Maybe it's to protect the seed while it is maturing?

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    1. It is one invasive plant that we tolerate Mark but we can control it - if we remember to. I think the coiling is the plants way of reducing the height of the stem so that the seed capsule is at ground (ant) level.

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  2. They're lovely plants, but you can really have too much of a good thing sometimes.

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    1. We had got to that stage, Jo but in an orchard or woodland garden under trees they would form a gorgeous carpet.

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  3. Well I have learnt a new word today...though I'm not sure I could pronounce it either. I think it's wonderful how nature makes sure it's life-cycle can continue year after year....I never though a plant would feed an ant so well though!!

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    1. It's amazing the lengths plants go to either to spread seed or be pollinated. Tanya. I suppose a most fruit do a similar thing only have different targets.

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  4. I didn't realise cyclamen could be so prolific. They're lovely looking plants. I like your pebble / rock garden area.

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    1. Still a bit more to do on the pebble garden Kelli but I think that will be on hold until spring.

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  5. Cyclamen is so unique plant!
    Your garden is so well organized!

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    1. Maybe looks organised in photos Malar but there are plenty of bits that need sorting out.

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  6. If you're going to have an invasive plant which self-seeds all over the place it might as well be an absolute beauty!

    I was thinking about putting some in the Coppice and seeing how well yours have spread I definitely shall do so. How many years has it taken for yours to colonise like this?

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    1. I can't honestly remember BW - they have sort of built up. The coum cyclamen that has a flower was sown in 2011. Do you want me to send you some seed capsules once they ripen?

      I could send some tiny seedlings but I'm not sure how they would travel.

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  7. I love cyclamen, and those are beauties. One of mine is about 10 inches across, it's so old but still flowers well.

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    1. I have some like that, Liz and when they flower they look beautiful

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  8. I love your cyclamen, I have never had much luck keeping them for more than one season, so I am rather envious of your obviously vigorous doers. I shall have to investigate.

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    1. The outdoor ones just do their own thing, Janet. I have had problems getting large indoor flowering ones to come into flower again.

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  9. Hello Sue
    Great pictures of your cyclamen. My gardens are overrun by Cyclamen hederifolium just like yours. I have some even growing in grass paths. Cyclamen coum for me is quite shy to establish,although they seem to like my York friend's clay soil and seed around freely

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    1. We have some growing in the grass on the allotment, Roger. In the garden they are growing in gaps between paving - in fact in all sorts of nooks at crannies

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  10. Are any of your lovely cyclamen scented,Sue

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  11. I am doing a post on my own blog about hardy cyclamen and suddenly panicked whether they have the same lovely scent of the florists cyclamen- it was windy when I went down on my knees to smell my own. Will try tomorrow. When I was at college in Wye 50 years ago they were doing back crosses with wild Cyclamen persicum to restore the scent into the florists cyclamen.
    Ps I was amazed to see your address was Horbury . When I was a student teacher at Askham Bryan I came to lecture at the local tech, it was on onions!

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    1. I've been out and had a sniff at hederifolia- I couldn't detect a perfume at all but it is very wet which I suppose could make a difference.

      WE actually live in Ossett but our allotment is in Horbury - small world!

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