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Winter Blooms: GBBD, January 2014

January 16, 2014
winter garden 2014It is mid-winter in my Maine garden; and most plants are in dormancy, slumbering under their blanket of white while building energy for spring. Even after several days of our annual January thaw, there are still several inches of snow cover.
amsonia foliage in snowSome “winter interest” is provided by spent perennial foliage. I like the gold color of these Amsonia hubrichtii remains against the snow.

In the Serenity Garden, the ‘Green Mountain’ boxwood provides a welcome green presence. And some tattered hellebore foliage has emerged from beneath the snow.

winter boxwood winter hellebore foliage

rhody sprungOn the back slope, I’m amazed at how quickly this rhododendron has sprung upright in the thaw after weeks of being weighted down by ice.

red cyclamen 2014But none of these signs of life in the winter garden are blooms. For flowers, we need to go indoors, where my faithful cyclamen bloom in the living room window.  I love the fiery glow of the red flowers as the light shines through them.

pink & white cyclamen

The pink and white flowers have a softer look.

pink cyclamen 2014I know that potted cyclamen have a reputation for being difficult to keep alive, but that has not been my experience at all. All of mine were holiday plants and all are now more than a decade old. My first cyclamen was a holiday gift from a friend 20 years ago and is blooming profusely. In those 20 years, this plant has been watered once a week, repotted once a decade,  and fertilized very occasionally. I think the main thing these plants require to thrive is cool. This bright, drafty window ledge in a house that is usually kept at about 60F in the winter and seldom gets very hot, even in summer, is perfect for them. I think many people discard cyclamen prematurely when they stop blooming and go into dormancy. At this point, a new plant will drop all its leaves and look pretty dead. But if you’re a procrastinator and don’t get around to throwing it out, it will reward you with new growth after a few weeks. Over time, as mine reproduced by multiplying their corms, the various corms developed staggered bloom times so that now the plants pretty much have leaves and flowers all year round (although they bloom most exuberantly in the cool months of winter).

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of every month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what blooms gardeners from many climates have to share this month.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2014 12:10 am

    It is always a pleasure to walk through the garden, even in the dead of winter. Even in the worst of weather I try to make that trip at least once a week.

    • January 22, 2014 9:30 pm

      I agree, Charlie. I often have trouble getting out into my garden when the snow is deep, but I took advantage of our week of thawing (and resulting shallower snow pack) to get out and look around.

  2. January 17, 2014 4:39 am

    Oh dear, it still looks so wintery there. I am impressed that you have kept your cyclamen going for so many years.

    • January 22, 2014 9:48 pm

      Chloris, It is definitely wintry here — cold and white. But I don’t mind; I actually like winter. :-). I think cyclamen like the bright, cool conditions of winter, too.

  3. Harriet Robinsom permalink
    January 17, 2014 7:57 am

    If you can keep cyclamen alive, I think you could keep rosemary alive, too. Those cool temps indoors are key. I’ll have to give you a cutting next summer.

    • January 22, 2014 9:50 pm

      Harriet, That’s encouraging. I’d love to get a rosemary cutting from you.

  4. January 17, 2014 11:33 am

    Those cyclamen are really impressive Jean – especially the interesting fact that the corms have a staggered flowering time now so that you can enjoy them over a very long period. And the garden looks lovely in the snow!

    • January 22, 2014 9:53 pm

      Cathy, I love the cyclamen. They are so faithful and generally trouble free. I give them a cool, bright window ledge and mostly ignore them, and they reward me with beautiful flowers almost all year round. In summer, they can fade into the background of my life. But in winter, when they’re just about the only game in town, I give them the appreciation they deserve.

  5. January 17, 2014 1:26 pm

    I think you’re right about the viability of cyclamen as houseplants, Jean. I gave one to my mother (who never through anything away) – it flowered off and on for years on her kitchen table. Happy GBBD!

    • January 22, 2014 10:12 pm

      Kris, I’d be interested to know if your mother lives in a cool climate and has a cool house. I really think most people in the US just keep their houses too warm in winter for these plants to be happy.

  6. January 18, 2014 2:10 am

    Hi Jean, haven’t been here for a while, so Happy New Year. Winter is fascinating for me because we don’t have it, and i’ve never experienced it. But those cyclamen, are so lovely, we just see some of those in our highlands which is very far from us.

    • January 22, 2014 10:18 pm

      Andrea, It’s so interesting to me that there are cyclamen that grow in the Philippine highlands. Even though they seem to like a cool house, most are not cold hardy enough to survive outdoors here. There are three species which should be able to survive our winters if they have well-drained soil, and someday I’m going to plant some outside in my garden.

  7. January 18, 2014 10:02 am

    I can’t say anything nice about the snow 🙂 but the cyclamen look great! Thanks for the info, benign neglect is something I can do and I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m considering one. I do admit to a bit of a weakness for cyclamen…..

    • January 22, 2014 10:22 pm

      Frank, I’m a Mainer, so I actually like the snow. I just took a look at your blog and saw all those pots of cyclamen you are growing. You’re the cyclamen king!!

  8. January 18, 2014 1:55 pm

    You have wonderful cyclamen, Jean. So vibrant!

    • January 22, 2014 10:24 pm

      Joene, I love that vibrant shot of color in the middle of winter — especially important since none of my amaryllis bulbs are showing any interest in putting up flowers. (They do not like a cool house!)

  9. January 25, 2014 3:58 pm

    Interesting tips about the cyclamen. Amazing that you’ve had one for twenty years. that’s a solid little plant.

    • February 2, 2014 7:48 pm

      Marguerite, That cyclamen has become an old friend. When I read that gift cyclamen are just about impossible to keep alive as house plants, I think, “Huh???” Next, I’m actually going to plant some in the garden, where they are supposed to be easier to grow.

  10. January 27, 2014 6:21 pm

    I discovered that cyclamen will come back by procrastinating too, so funny. I am assuming you are back in PA. Glad they have revised the forecast upward!

    • February 2, 2014 7:49 pm

      Carolyn, Sometimes procrastination turns out to be a virtue 🙂 .

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