A Garden Escapee

With the past week being so damp and over-cast and you’d be surprised to find any shred of brightness in the garden. Luckily you would be wrong and there are a few delights in the garden and more importantly outside the garden.

Even though the trees around us are starting to put on a spectacular display of autumnal hues, it is often the smaller surprises, which are hidden away, that bring the most joy. These are the ones that catch you off guard and in my case anyway bring the best bliss.

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One of the best discoveries I have made in the past few weeks has been the great sways of cyclamen that have been popping up in selected places around the county. Cyclamen are something that I always associate with this time of year, as the seasons get colder and damper. Often though the ones we see are the large brightly coloured ones that come from garden centers.

The ones I have come across in the past few weeks are not these large flamboyant ones from shops however. The ones that are popping up outside are wild cyclamen. While they are classes as wild cyclamen, they are technically garden escapees which have naturalised in the wild and put on a great display of flowers from around the middle of September until November.

The flowers of these cyclamen, or sowbread as it is sometimes known, are often much paler than the ones you can buy in shops. They are often found in semi-shaded areas in among ivy, which makes them hard to notice until they are in flower. The leaves of the plant are extremely attractive when you do notice them. The leaves can vary in shape but are characterised by their pattern of grey, cream or dark green marks.

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Cyclamen prefer to grow in sun or partial shade and in humus rich soil. This means the most common areas to find them is nestled under deciduous trees, which makes for a great display as the leaves of the trees begin to fall.

While these cyclamen look fantastic it is always important to remember not to dig up and transplant wildflowers of any kind. At least with this great wildflower, there are fantastic cultivars that can be bought to brighten up the edge of flowerbeds or put in pots to add a splash of colour to patios.

An edited version of this article was published in the Kildare Post on 19th October 2014.