There are moments when I get the impression that the genus Cyclamen is comparable to a vast and very talented family. Any kid that is gorgeous and bright in such a household would, regrettably, constantly be compared with its more lavish siblings, and it will always be found lacking in comparison. If it had been born into any other family, then, without a doubt, it would have received a great deal of acclaim and attention. As an enthusiastic reader of books on Cyclamen, essays, and general bulb or alpine literature, I’ve seen that certain “children” appear to have suffered from unjust comparisons, direct criticism, damning by light praise, or simply a lack of care. This is something that I’ve noticed.
This composition acts as a voice for them and makes an attempt to restore a sense of equilibrium. My judicial investigations began with a focus on seasonal species.
Cyclamen cyprium seems to have received mixed evaluations; nonetheless, many general publications do not include it, which may be due to the plant’s resilience. “…next comes Cyclamen cyprium, not the nicest of the race, and difficult to blossom – but which holds us over until…(name withheld),” Roy Elliott wrote in a chapter on Alpine Houses. Ouch! After what happened, I can see Cyprium cowering away in its room for many weeks. However, Chris Grey-Wilson provides some optimism for us in his book “Cyclamen, a handbook for gardeners, horticulturists, and botanists” by stating that “it is a magnificent plant when properly grown.” I believe that this book should be required reading for all of the members of our association. However, he continues by saying that it is one of the species that is least resistant to adversity and that he does not find it particularly simple to cultivate. When I first began growing cyclamen again around 10 years ago, I lost numerous species in an unheated greenhouse during a very frigid time, but the Cyclamen cyprium E.S variety survived unscathed. This was an odd occurrence in terms of the plant’s ability to withstand cold. In my experience, this is one of the species that sometimes hibernates for a whole year. This means that it does not come into growth for a whole year, and then the next year it emerges with a kind of drowsy air as if to say “did I miss anything?” Strangely, it seems that when this occurs, occasionally all of my plants of a single species take the year off, despite the fact that they originated from various origins, are of different ages, and are located in different areas of the greenhouse. Cyprium had their chance the year before, but this year everyone is participating again. Even though it does not flower quite as freely as I would like it to, it still seems to put on quite a show, with unmistakable white flowers (sometimes a pale pink) and a series of magenta markings at the auricles. Even though it does not flower quite as freely as I would like it to, it still seems to make quite a show. It has a really pleasant aroma, and I feel that it has a nice habit. Although some of the flowers open before the leaves, when it is at their height, it typically displays themselves in an attractive manner, with a mound of leaves and a center bunching of flowers. As for the leaves, they may be a variety of colors and patterns; for example, a single planting gave me plants with leaves that were mostly olive green except for two brighter patches at the leaf apex, and another plant had leaves that were mostly a sage green color with darker markings. There is also a variant known as the E.S form, which stands for Elizabeth Strangman and has leaves that are speckled and splashed with white, which is a lot of fun to look at.
Cyclamen africanum is doomed to an unfortunate end since, on occasion and for no apparent reason, it is the sole plant that is not portrayed in a book, and other times it is just disregarded. Something that may be compared to an old-fashioned communist boss who, when they fall out of favor, is gently removed from power. Putting aside the possibility of paranoia, it seems to get far less amount of column inches than maybe it should. However, it is covered in more detail in the reports that are generated from the Cyclamen Society’s exhibitions. I believe that a portion of the issue is due to the fact that it seems to be so similar to hederifolium; nevertheless, hederifolium is far more adaptable and, in general, showier. The sibling of Africanum is a hardy plant that is more varied and has multiple identified variants (I have plants of Cyclamen africanum album, but wonder what they will turn out to be). The second issue is that there is a great deal of misunderstanding over what is and is not an africanum, with claims that many of the plants that are now being cultivated are, in fact, hybrids with hederifolium. My personal “africanum” plant does have the look of a somewhat larger form of hederifolium, however, the petals are a touch floppy, which takes away from the overall aesthetic of the plant. On the other hand, I do have seedlings of the “authentic” plant, which were grown from the original seed collections made in Algeria. This year, one of them bloomed, and oddly enough, it looked like a smaller and more rigid form of hederifolium. It is extremely prim and respectable, with very wide, glossy, mid-green leaves and four blooms of a medium pink hue. It is of a consistent height and size, which contributes to its enormous attractiveness. The majority of my other plants that came from this sowing have leaves that are quite similar to these, but the plants that came from JCA855 have leaves that are grayish green and arrow-shaped, and they are succulent and have a horny tooth edge. The last time I went to Wisley, I saw plants that had mostly light pink flowers on long stems. There was also one plant that was almost the same size as the miniature that I had bloomed earlier this year. I spotted a plant in the “For sale” frames that had a solitary blossom that was a rich rose pink color and was not accompanied by a leaf; however, it was too late since the plant had already been purchased.
A dispassionate account of the “typical” Cyclamen intaminatum would not exactly excite the reader. It would say something along the lines of “tiny, dark, and simple leaves, with unscented, little off-white blooms with gray veining.” Even so, as it grows, you may end up with a delicate potful, and sowing from a single seedpod, placed in a shaded trough has enabled it to show off a certain pixie charm outdoors. I have some plants with patterned leaves, but they don’t appear to be as healthy as the others, and it’s a pity since they only produce a few blooms and leaves even after many years. While the plain-leaved type seems to be moderately robust, this variety appears to have a somewhat high rate of mortality. There is one particular plant that I cultivate, and I believe it originated in the compost that I use in my greenhouse. It seems to be a light pink intaminatum, with petals that are light pink and fade to a white nose, grey veining, and patterned leaves that are unusually big for an intaminatum. The fact that it is so vigorous, in addition to the fact that it was found in the plunge material at a time when I don’t believe any of the patterned intaminatums had set seed, leads me to speculate that it is a hybrid. It is possible that it is the result of a hybridization between the two types of intaminatum, between intaminatum and cilicium, or between intaminatum and mirabile. A local plantswoman showed me a plant that was virtually identical to the one I have, so now I’m wondering whether other members have plants that are similar.
I have high hopes that this will help to level the playing field in terms of horticultural equity, and that as a result, my plants of C. africanum, cyprium, and intaminatum will now demonstrate their appreciation by flourishing to an extent that has not been seen before in terms of their growth and floral production.