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November: Cyclamen

As you enter our garden centre you will see amongst the family photographs one very old photograph of my father (probably taken in the 1950’s), standing proudly in his greenhouse among his crop of Cyclamen that are in full bloom. In those days it was a crop that would have taken 18 months to produce from seed, now with modern breeding and growing techniques we can grow better plants in less than half the time. In those days with very few centrally heated homes father’s cyclamen would thrive for many months. Today to enjoy these beautiful plants for a long time we must remember that they need lower temperatures than we live in today. As with most plants it is worth knowing what their origins are and what conditions they thrive on in the wild. They originated from the Middle East, particularly the alpine slopes of Turkey, where they are found in abundance in cool moist areas. They first became popular as a house and conservatory plant in late Victorian times, growing exceptionally well in the cool, damp pre-centrally heated homes of that period. Today we have many hybrids and varieties including the relatively new miniature varieties that grow to six inches or less, many with scented flowers. Here are a few things to look for – try to buy your cyclamen plant in the late autumn, October, November and early December. Look under the leaves and choose one with lots of unopened buds as well as open flowers. Beware of those offered for sale in a paper cellophane sleeve and in a shop with high temperatures. Remember, cyclamen like to be cool, 50 – 60oF is the ideal temperature. Place in bright winter light away from direct sun, such as a north facing window sill, but avoid those with a radiator underneath. Stand on a tray or in a large pot cover with a few pebbles in the bottom and keep the pebbles moist to increase the humidity surrounding the plant. When the plant begins to droop slightly, stand it in a saucer of water adding a drop of liquid feed for about half an hour and then return to its pebble tray. Try to keep the crown of the plant dry. When the flowers fade, remove them by twisting the stems slightly and giving a sharp tug. The stem should come away from the corm cleanly. The same applies to any leaves that may need removing – if left the stems will rot and destroy the buds developing in the crown. The most common cause of early plant death is high temperatures and dry air. This causes yellow leaves that are small with long stalks, so check the temperature. Anything over 60oF, for long periods of time, will drastically shorten its life. Other possible causes of the above symptoms are lack of water or direct sunlight. I had one customer and friend, now sadly no longer with us who for many years bought six cyclamen plants from me just as the first flowers appeared at the end of October. He placed three in his cold porch and the other three in their centrally heated home, alternating them twice a week.  In this way they were able to keep them well into May sometimes June. A tip from Brian Probably the most difficult spot in the garden to grow plants is under mature trees where the soil is packed with roots. There is very little depth of soil and it is low in moisture and nutrients. Ideally suited for these conditions is the alpine cyclamen hederifolium. These will set seed and in time, if undisturbed, form a carpet of glossy, marbled leaves and produce masses of dainty flowers in the autumn. Mix them with the spring flowering Cyclamen corm for another flush of flowers in the spring.

August: Going on Holiday

After all the work planting, watering and feeding our garden during the last few months it is just coming to a climax of colour and beauty. All is growing well in the vegetable patch and it will soon be time to harvest the fruits of our crop. So what should...

May: Hanging Baskets & Bulbs

Looking forward to the coming season always excites me and these days we seem to see new plants and varieties to make the growers life even more interesting. Hanging baskets increase in popularity each year as does the range and selection of plants available. We produced over 4,000 baskets last...

January: Time to be feeding our feathered friends

Christmas is over and we are into the dull, dark days of winter, so relax and do a spot of armchair gardening. Enjoy looking at the many seed and young plant catalogues that drop through the letterbox at this time of year. The pictures are fantastic and the descriptions fill us...

February: Sowing Seed

We stand in the warm looking out on the garden in winter with very little colour, waiting in anticipation of the spring and summer to come. These days with their long cold nights, switch off the television and settle into a comfy armchair and study a few seed catalogues to...

March: Moss Free Lawns

We in this area are fortunate not to be affected by flooding as in other areas of the country but the soil has at times become saturated with water for very long periods of time. These conditions together with a period of warm mild weather will encourage the growth of moss....

April: Spring in Full Bloom

April is the real start for the amateur gardener’s enjoyment. The spring flowers are in full bloom, the lawn has been cut a few times giving off that wonderful scent of fresh mown grass and the trees are coming into life with bright green clean leaves. Spring beauty is relatively...

June: Bedding Plants

As soon as the chance of frost is over, it is time to get out in the garden and plant some colourful bedding plants that will give you a beautiful display all summer and well into the autumn. Garden centres like ours have a vast choice, now take some time...

July: Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

July, August and September – these are (or should be) the lazy, hazy days of summer when we all can enjoy long evenings in our garden with friends, go along to a barbecue or a summer party and enjoy the view of the flowers we planted last month. The work...

October: Winter Hanging Baskets

Most of us enjoy the beauty of summer hanging baskets but have you thought of the possibility of enjoying a hanging basket during the winter months? For many years we have been trialling and testing plants for use in winter hanging baskets. If a ball of colourful flowers is what...

December: Joel Poinsett

Since mid-June, the main crop on our nursery has been the Poinsettia, 1,500 of them for the Christmas festive season and many millions more are being produced and sold throughout the world. As I was tending my crop of Poinsettia, I got to thinking about the man who gave his...