Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cavolo Nero

In the states, we know this tough, cold-hardy cabbage cousin as "Dinosaur" kale, its name coming from the rough, leathery texture of its leaves.  We use it primarily as an ornamental for the fall and winter garden, combining it with pansies, violas and other cold-hardy winter growers where it provides a textural, architectural accent for its lower growing companions.  In Italy, however, Cavolo Nero, or black kale, is a staple of the fall and winter vegetable garden and its greatest claim to fame is the thick, rich tuscan soup called Ribollita.

On our trip to Italy last October, we sampled Ribollita in a variety of restaurants, from small town osterias to the finer establishments of Florence.  Each was slightly different in its makeup, but all were a hearty blend of kale, white beans and other vegetables.  Some had a touch of tomato, while others leaned most heavily on the Cavolo Nero itself.  In every case, the portion set before you was generous--and generously drizzled with the brightest green, fresh pressed olive oil available, some of it even having been pressed that very day.  Divine!

I stopped by the garden center on my way home on Friday and picked up some "Dinosaur" kale for my own garden.  I have yet to decide whether I'll plant it directly in the ground, where it would certainly attain its greatest size, or whether I'll opt to use it in a few pots up near the garden shed where I can protect them from the harshest winter weather and harvest kale until well after Christmas.  Given the current rabbit population, pots seem the most prudent way to go.  Either way, I'll be harvesting my own Cavolo Nero in a few weeks and Ribollita will be on the menu on more than one occasion this winter.  If you'd like to try some yourself, here is my favorite Ribollita recipe, shared from the most famous of all Italian cookbooks, The Silver Spoon.

Ribollita
Serves 4

1/4 cup very high quality olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 fresh or canned tomatoes, peeled
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 potatoes, coarsely diced
7 1/2 cups Cavolo Nero (black kale), shredded
1 cup fresh white beans, or 1/2 cup dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
4 country-style bread slices
salt and pepper, to taste

This is soup is called ribollita (reboiled) because it was originally made using the previous day's leftover vegetable soup heated in an earthenware pot with thinly sliced onion, black pepper and olive oil sprinkled on the surface.  It was taken off the heat and served when the onion had turned golden brown.  Today, however, it is normally made as follows.

Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a heavy pan, add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the tomatoes, thyme and potatoes and cook for a few minutes, then add the cavolo nero and beans.  Pour in 8 3/4 cups water and season with salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 2 hours.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Place the bread on the base of a large earthenware casserole and ladle in the soup.  Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Divide into 4 serving bowls, sprinkle with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chasing Winter Away

It's Sunday afternoon and much of the South is bracing for yet another nasty swipe by Old Man Winter.  He has already taken a couple of good whacks at us this season and it looks as though tonight's snow and ice may extend as far south as Birmingham and perhaps even further!  To help chase away those winter blues, I've been culling through my photo files and trying to reduce the number of unwanted, unneeded and unusable photos that I just haven't gotten around to deleting yet.  Going through file after file helped me realize just how many photos I have of plants that help me get through the cold, gray days of winter in my garden and I thought I'd share a few favorites with you.

Edgeworthia chrysantha has long been one of my favorite winter-flowering shrubs.  In middle Tennessee, we can expect flowers by mid-February, but the plant needs to be sited in a protected location so that cold weather doesn't freeze the early blooms.  In just the right location, you can expect a 4 to 5-foot tall shrub with a 5 to 6-foot spread, but they often don't get quite that large.  A particularly cold winter may cause some stems to die back, but with careful pruning and shaping the plant will rebound quickly.  Morning sun with afternoon shade is the ideal location, preferably in rich, humusy, evenly moist soil with some protection from bitter winter winds.

The most serious of my plant collecting friends are really into this stunning relative of some of our most important commercial fruit crops--peaches, plums and cherries.  Prunus mume is a species of flowering apricot whose blooms appear in the dead of winter when planted in just the right climate.  In my garden, they frequently get frozen, but I don't mind.  The few days of incredible enjoyment they give me each year, sometimes as early as the end of January, make them worth whatever space they take up in the garden.  It helps that they are intoxicatingly fragrant!

Cornus officinalis is one of our earliest flowering dogwoods.  Dogwood?  Sure enough!  As early as February in a warm winter the golden yellow blooms burst open to brighten even the grayest days of winter.  Imagine the flower of the white flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) that most of us are familiar with and then think of that little green "puff" in the center of the bloom.  That "puff" is the little cluster of true flowers that are surrounded by the showy white bracts that we think of as being the flower, but the truth is, it's not.  Just like the Christmas poinsettia, the showy parts are actually bracts and not flowers at all.  In the case of Cornus officinalis, it's missing those showy bracts and it just has the little "puff"--and they happen to be brilliant, golden yellow!  A most welcome sight as winter begins to lose its grip and spring slowly emerges.

Late winter and early spring in my garden are defined by the flowering of the hellebores, or Lenten roses.  Known as the stinking hellebore (an absolutely horrendous common name, as there is nothing about it that stinks!), Helleborus foetidus is one of the earliest flowering of all the plants in my garden.  In fact, it's not uncommon for buds to begin appearing at the top of the plant as early (or late, depending on your perspective) as Thanksgiving!  Those buds will go through a tremendous amount of cold to begin opening their pale green petals the very minute the weather acts as though it is going to moderate!  Helleborus foetidus is almost always in full bloom by mid-February and will bloom for a full three months!

Also beginning in February, the witchhazels take center stage in the late winter and early spring garden.  Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' is a little later, but is also one of the showiest of all of the witchhazels.  Usually in flower around the first week of March, it lights up the garden for about two weeks in early spring and again in fall, when its leaves turn golden yellow with touches of orange and red!

In years when we're lucky (I guess) enough to have a little snow on the ground in late February, the beautiful and diminutive Iris reticulata will actually push its blooms right up through the snow!  Growing from a small, underground bulb, you need to plant these in the autumn--at the same time you would be planting tulips and daffodils.  Perfect perennials, Iris reticulata likes a location in the garden where it can spend the summer hot and dry.  Given the proper conditions it will multiply rapidly and return year after year, putting on a bigger and better show each and every spring.

I noticed yesterday when I was getting out of the car that the 'February Gold' Narcissus that are planted next to the driveway are up about 2" and are already showing the tips of their flower buds!  'February Gold' is one of the earliest of all daffodils and with the reflected heat of the driveway, they are almost always in full bloom by the third week of February!  Spring can't be far off now!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hellebore Fever


Well, March has certainly come roaring in! For those of you who didn't see it on the news (or experience it personally), parts of Tennessee received nearly a FOOT of snow last Saturday and Sunday. A FOOT!!! I know that to some of you that's pretty average, but in the South, where people (cities) are ill-prepared to handle such events, that's a LOT of snow. Imagine Buffalo or Chicago getting 5-6 feet of snow all at once and that's what we're talking about here. I may be wrong, but I believe I heard that the city of Memphis doesn't even have a snow plow--and they got 6 inches of snow! Snow plow or not, we're just not prepared to handle that kind of snow event around here. I'm still miffed, however, because the entire thing missed Nashville. I'd be hard pressed to call what we got a good dusting. Figures.


Snow aside, the garden is really starting to come to life now. It has been slowly awakening over the past several weeks, but now we're to the point where everyday something new pokes it's head out of the soil. I'm still learning my way around at the new place. I haven't done much digging yet because I still don't know what might be lurking underground, waiting to make its appearance. For instance, what I thought was going to be a convenient path from the front walk to the sideyard appears to have Virginia bluebells planted in it. All winter long I've been trampling a path through the area and now I find little purplish-red sprouts pushing through the soil. They're going to have to move. The path is staying. Same for a couple of clumps of daffodils that have shown themselves in the middle of the path going into the main part of the yard. They won't mind being dug, divided and relocated once summer arrives. That path is staying, too.


The hellebores that survived the winter (the ones in containers took a real beating) are looking glorious. 'Ivory Prince', pictured here, is truly an outstanding garden plant. Its vigor, I'm finding, is second-to-none. The same is true for many of the newer hybrids. Excellent parents have led to excellent progeny and the growth that I'm getting out of many of my new hellebores is nearly double what I'm accustomed to from this group of plants. Some of my favorites are the plants from hellebore guru Marietta O'Byrne, which are being introduced by my friends at Terra Nova Nurseries. The colors are exquisite and the vigor is astounding! A few particular favorites are 'Golden Lotus', the 'Brushstrokes Strain' and the 'London Fog' series. There are several others, too, and there's not a dog among them!


Another group of hellebores that I've been most impressed with is the Brandywine series from good friend and plant guru, Dave Culp. His eye for color, flower size and plant vigor is extraordinary. This is a mixed color strain, but the colors are clear and delicious--I've been like a kid in a candy store--and my very best yellow-flowered plant to date has come from Dave's group, flowering in a clear, unspotted limey-yellow with flowers almost 3 inches across. It absolutely glows in the garden!


The weather forecast is sunny and 70 for Monday, so I'm looking forward to an entire day in the garden! I'll let you know what happens!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'

Well, you've been asking for more plant posts and I've been promising more plant posts, so here we go. The garden is waking up! A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Hamamelis 'Arnold Promise' was getting ready to burst. Then it got cold and Arnold decided to keep his head down for a few more days, but he's showing off magnificently now! The silvery-grey stems are all but obscured by brilliant primrose yellow flowers that will last the better part of a month, as long as the weather stays seasonably cool.

Just to the left of the path coming up to the front door, Helleborus 'Silver Moon' has opened its first flower, too (the buds have been there since Christmas!). This is a hybrid of Helleborus niger and either H. lividus or H. x sternii. I'm getting conflicting reports, which I think I mentioned a few posts ago. Either way, it's simply stunning--by far my favorite at this point because of its absolutely exquisite silver-marbled foliage and pure white flowers flushed pink on the outside. That said, it has a cousin, 'Ivory Prince', whose performance has also been second-to-none.

Helleborus x 'Ivory Prince' is a complex hybrid that involves several species and has come available on the mass market in just the past couple of years. Unlike the hellebores of years past, many of the new cultivars are now being propagated by tissue culture, which gets them to the market much more quickly and at a fairly reasonable price--'Ivory Prince' is a perfect example. It has beautiful, dark blue-green foliage--thick and leathery and of great substance--and beautiful ivory-white flowers that age to pink and eventually green. It's greatest attribute though, in my opinion, is its hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor is not an uncommon occurence in plant breeding--two parents are crossed and the resulting plants (if it was a good cross) combine the best attributes of the two, which often results in offspring that grow larger, stronger and faster than either of the parents. Such is the case with 'Ivory Prince'.

From a one-gallon pot that was planted last fall, 'Ivory Prince' pushed up from under the oak leaves this week with more than a dozen stems of flowers, with at least 8 to 10 buds per stem. That's over 100 blooms on a 1-gallon plant! I'm waiting on it to open up just a bit more before I take a photo of it, but will post one just as soon as the flowers are open far enough to get a good shot of it. In the meantime, if you'll go to Google Images and look up "Helleborus Ivory Prince", you'll come up with all kinds of beautiful photos. As with most hellebores, this is a great one for the drier (not full-on drought) areas of the shady garden! It's certainly one that I'll never be without again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blossoms of Winter

'Arnold Promise' Witchhazel, www.fantasticplants.com

I'm happy to report that so far, Nashville has dodged today's weather bullet. We'll see what happens after it gets dark and the temperature drops a bit. It has been raining almost continually since about 3:30 this morning, but for most of that time it has been in liquid form and the ambient air temperature is a few degrees above freezing. I'm choosing to believe the forecast the says our temps are going to continue to rise a few degrees and that the city will not be a solid sheet of black ice come morning. We'll see.

Even with the gloomy weather, a bright spot emerged in the garden this morning. I noticed as I was leaving the house that Hamamelis 'Arnold Promise' was just about to burst into full bloom. The petals are still coiled, but it is obvious that with the first warmer day it will regale the garden and perfume the air with its golden yellow blossoms.

Witchhazels are fabulous for the fall, winter and early spring gardens. Depending on the species and cultivar, as well as the area of the country you live in, you might have witchhazels in flower anytime from October through March/April. Of the many varieties I have grown over the years, I keep coming back to 'Arnold Promise' as my favorite. The flowers are large, showy and appear consistently every year. Timing can vary depending on your climate, as early as February here in the mid-south and as late as early April in the northern reaches of its hardiness.

The thing I love the most is its bright, forsythia-yellow color. It seems to come during the grayest days of winter, when I need it most, to remind me that I only need hold on a few more weeks until the first warm days of spring will be here and life will come again to the garden. It makes the perfect understory accent for the garden in bright dappled shade or an excellent focal point where it can take advantage of morning sun and a little protection from the sun's harshest afternoon rays. If you can, site it where you can enjoy it as the rising or setting sun provides dramatic backlighting for its stunning floral display. It's sure to brighten your spirits on even the dreariest of winter days!

There are many other cultivars of witchhazel, too, and honestly, I've never met one I didn't like. The brilliant golds, buttery yellows, burning oranges and rustic burgundies all bring life to the garden at a time when we need it the most!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Blast

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Winter--REAL winter--has reared its ugly head. We're expecting the coldest temperatures in six years here in Nashville tonight and, in the outerlying areas, possibly the coldest temperatures in nearly 10 years!

For those of you in the midwest and northeast, what we're experiencing here is child's play compared to the temperatures that you and your gardens are having to endure. But for those of us who like to garden on the edge of our gardening zone, weather like this can be devastating--and enlightening. We'll learn alot from this. For instance, we'll learn whether Loropetalumis truly a Zone 7 plant or whether we can get away with it in Zone 6. My guess is Zone 7 and we'll see significant dieback if these temperatures endure for long.

On a brighter note, the fact that we've gradually approached the single digits rather than plummeting from one extreme to the other is a good thing. Yes, it was fairly balmy earlier in the week--mid to upper 40's--but at least we didn't plunge from 48 to 8 in just a few hours' time. That has happened on several occasions and the effects are devastating. Also, we're not going to remain bitterly cold for days on end, but cold is cold and for plants that aren't adapted, it can still be damaging. Be prepared to do a little pruning and deadwooding on your tender shrubs this spring.

So, what to do? For the most part, my plants are on their own. I confess that I did move some of the more tender conifers (still in containers) around to the south side of the house, just to keep them out of the wind. Another group was moved to the south side of the garden shed for the same reason. And a small handful of plants that I REALLY wanted to protect were set inside the garden shed--unheated, but protected nonetheless. That's all the preparation I'm doing. Beyond that, the plants are on their own. They'll just have to survive--or not. It's a cruel, cruel world...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Feeding Frenzy


It's a busy time of year at the birdfeeders! I have an abundance of finches at my new country home--gold finches, purple finches and pine siskins. There are probably some others that I'm not familiar with, yet, but those are the primary three. I haven't seen any house finches, to date, but I'm sure they're around. I was overrun with them in the city. I also have mama and papa nuthatches, tufted titmice, chickadees, a pair of house wrens and the obligatory flock of mourning doves, whom I adore not only because they're pretty, but because they waddle around and clean up all the seed the other birds spill on the ground. Wasteful little things birds can be, sometimes. The papa nuthatch will actually THROW things OUT of the feeder that he's not interested in, but the doves take care of it, so I'm not complaining. He is a little territorial, however, and I'm not so fond of his running off my other birds should they DARE land on whichever feeder he's possessing at the moment.

In addition, and perhaps my most prized residents for the moment, are two mated pair of bluebirds whose babies will assuredly adorn the garden this spring and, I noticed yesterday for the first time, the rose-breasted grosbeaks (up until now I had seen them only rarely!) are NESTING atop the downspout just outside my office window! What a treat that will be a little later in the season!

I am beginning to get the gardening itch. When I moved to the new place in the country back in August, the garden had been somewhat let go (understandably so) through the summer due to my landlord being in the throes of trying to finish her new house so that she AND I could both move. To that end, there was alot of cleaning up that had to be done. Some of it I tackled--most of it I left. Now it's time to get out there and finish the task! I have taken some "before" pictures and will post those in the near future. 2009 is going to be a year of gardening, which I haven't had the pleasure of being able to do for the past few years because of my prior living situation. This year, all of those little (and some not-so-little) plants that I have been tending to in their pots for the past four years are finally going to find a home! The blog will follow along with the progress, the success, the trials and the tribulations. I hope you will, too, and I wish the very best in 2009! Thank goodness it's FINAllY here. I feel better already!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Amaryllis By Any Other Name...




Hippeastrum cybister. Yes, yes, I know. More weird plants. Why not just talk about good old-fashioned red Christmas amaryllis? (Yawn.) Or everyone's favorite, 'Appleblossom'? (Yawn.) Or that beautiful red-and-white striped one that Granny grew every year? (Yaaawwn.) Alright, alright. I'm being unfair. I'm sounding like I don't like the traditional, large-flowered Christmas amaryllis when really, I do. But y'all know about those. I'd rather tell you about an amaryllis that you might not be quite as familiar with, if at all--and that's Hippeastrum cybister, or the cybister amaryllis.

This is a species that is native to South America--Bolivia, specifically--and has, in the past decade or so, been used extensively in hybridizing. The bottom photograph above is a picture of the species. It's extremely narrow petals are a dominant characteristic and carry through to the offspring. By hybridizing this species with other, more colorful species, the breeders have brought us an astounding array of exotic-looking, almost orchid-like amaryllis (the top picture) that 20 years ago were nearly unheard of.

The cybister group, as they're often referred to, are just as easy to grow as their larger counterparts, but are smaller in every respect. Smaller bulbs, smaller flowers, and generally smaller in stature (which means little to no staking!) and they make the perfect subjects for tabletop or windowsills during the holiday season. The cybister types also tend to be evergreen, so even though you'll purchase them as dormant bulbs (no foliage), once you get them up and growing they should remain beautiful green houseplants year round.

As with all amaryllis, they like to be potbound, so don't overdo it on the size of the pot. They also don't like to be overwatered, especially when in bloom (true for almost all amaryllis), so don't get heavy-handed with the watering can. Generally speaking, I pot them up, soak them good one time to settle them into the pot and leave them the heck alone until the flower stalks are emerging well from the bulb. Even then I just keep them barely moist. They're still rooting in at this point and overwatering could well cause those tender new roots to rot!

Cybisters will multiply with some degree of abandon and, after a few years, you should have a nice pot full of bulbs. Leave them alone! They're pretty this way. Even if the bulbs start "stacking up" on each other, they'll be okay. In the wild, amaryllis tend to grow on rock cliffs and other such places, so they don't need a gigantic pot filled to the brim with over-rich potting soil. All they need is a place to hang on and get a little food and water from occasionally.
I'd recommend summering them outdoors in a semi-shaded spot. In summer, when they are actively growing, you can feed and water them like your other houseplants, but once they come back in for the winter you need to back off again.

One last word on amaryllis: bloom time. This will likely come as a shock to some of you, but Christmas is NOT their natural bloom time. Spring is. The bulbs you buy for forcing at Christmas are exactly that. Forced. This doesn't harm them, but in later years (assuming you keep them from year to year) they will flower at their normal bloom time in March and April and, generally speaking, not at Christmas. A word to the wise--you're better off to just enjoy them at their natural bloom time. Re-forcing them to flower at Christmas every year is somewhat difficult unless you are able to provide just the right conditions. I don't recommend it. Buy a new one each year and add to your collection. Let it be beautiful for the holidays and enjoy the rest of them as they welcome spring. I mean, the flowers aren't any less beautiful in March, right?

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Berries, Berries!


It's berry time again! The onset of cooler autumn weather and the changing of the leaves always reminds me how important berries are in the garden. Plants with berries help to extend the season of interest well into winter in most places. Most berry-producing plants are trees or shrubs of some kind and I thought I'd run through a short list of some favorites. (This is not an exhaustive, all-inclusive list--just a little something to whet your appetite.)


One of my all-time favorite berry plants is our southeastern native beautyberry, Callicarpa americana. It's royal purple berries begin to color up in September while the leaves are still hanging tight. Then, in October, the foliage turns brilliant yellow with the purple berries hugging the stems of the plant. The berries continue to hang on until well after the foliage drops and will retain their brilliant purple color until the weather really gets cold and we have a few hard freezes--often late November to early December--so that gives you an extra two months of color. One of my favorite combinations in the garden is American beautyberry with oakleaf hydrangea. I have several gardens where we have used this combination to great effect, particularly the dwarf oakleaf hydrangea called 'Peewee' whose deep maroon fall color is stunning with the purple American beautyberry. The only drawback is that Callicarpa americana is a pretty strong Zone 6b plant. Much colder than that and it may or may not make it through the winter.


Another favorite berry plant for the winter months is, of course, Ilex verticillata. There are a number of these on the market, but my favorite is probably the cultivar 'Red Sprite'. It's compact enough at 4 feet tall to fit into almost any landscape and the berries are at least twice the size of almost any other "winterberry"-type holly out there. I say "winterberry"-type because 'Winterberry' is actually a cultivar, but it has come into play in the industry as a common name, too, so a rather rash generalization is in play here. Being a non-conformist, I'm trying to stay out of that trap. Don't forget, with deciduous hollies (and evergreen ones, too, for that matter), male and female are needed for berry production. If you choose to grow 'Red Sprite', make sure that you plant 'Jim Dandy' nearby in order to ensure copious quantities of berries every fall and winter.


In the realm of small trees, crabapples are obviously unsurpassed for their production of beautiful small fruits in late summer and fall, many of which will hang on well into the winter if the birds (and deer) don't strip them clean. 'Red Jade' is one of the best and is perfect for the smaller landscape because of its "weeping" habit and small size--only 8 to 10 feet at maturity. It's stunning floral show in the spring is only a harbinger of things to come in the fall when it dazzles in the landscape with brilliant red fruits. 'Red Jewel' is another excellent choice when it comes to crabapples. Again, a slightly more compact tree, topping out at only 10-15 feet which makes it a great choice for today's smaller yards. White blossoms in spring and abundant cherry red fruits that persist well into winter make it a favorite "bird" tree when other sources of late autumn food have been used up.


In standard-size crabapples 'Sugar Tyme' is the way to go! It is second-to-none when it comes to fall and winter fruit display and its disease resistance makes for a great-looking plant throughout the growing season with few of the common crabapple problems. At 15 to 18 feet tall, it's still a great size for smaller yards, but is also able to hold its own in the larger landscape. Another excellent disease resistant selection is 'Donald Wyman', providing a great show of white blooms in the spring and branches full of brilliant red fruits in autumn and winter.


Of course, there are scads of other berry-producers that look great in the fall and winter landscape, but these are just a few favorites to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Winter-flowering Hardy Cyclamen



(Originally Posted November 16, 2007 on MySpace)
It’s just about that time of year when one of my favorite garden plants begins popping up around the garden. Cyclamen coum inhabits the shady corners and crannies, seeding itself hither and yon, but always in a welcomed way. I never tire of it and if, perhaps, it lands in just the wrong spot its root system is so shallow that the tubers can easily be lifted in one scoop of the shovel and moved without the plant ever knowing it was relocated. The main show will occur a little later in the winter, usually February, but here and there over the next three to four months the flowers will appear from time to time, never allowing winters blues to get the best of us. The foliage begins appearing in late September and October and the green and silver-patterned leaves are stunning throughout the winter. I love Cyclamen coum combined with Helleborus foetidus. Their shows overlap nicely and the brighter pinks and fuchsias of the cyclamen are glorious with the chartreuse green of the hellebore blossoms–and they thrive in the same growing conditions.

There have been some selections of Cyclamen coum made by a few enterprising gardeners and nurserymen, but unfortunately most of this has occurred across the pond and many of the varieties are not available stateside. However, there are a few places that are beginning to offer selected varieties. Mostly, though it has been the efforts of the Ashwood and Tile Barn nurseries, along with a few others in England, who have made the majority of the introductions at this point. Here in the states, a few plants were available at one time from Heronswood Nursery, but alas, all they offer now is a seed grown mix. My buddy Barry Glick, at Sunshine Farm and Gardens in Renick, West Virginia (http://www.sunfarm.com/) is also growing Cyclamen coum by the thousands and I’d be willing to bet that he has some fine plants set aside for introduction at some point. A place in Indiana called Munchkin Nursery & Gardens also lists it in their mail-order catalog. They can be found at http://www.munchkinnursery.com/. I’ve never ordered anything from them, so can’t speak to the kinds of plants they supply, but at least they list it–and a nice selection of other woodland and shade garden plants!

Cyclamen coum combines well with many woodland and shade garden plants, including our most common inhabitants like hostas, hellebores and ferns, but they’ll also thrive amongst the roots of other shrubs and trees–and actually prefer it there! When planting cyclamen, be sure that the top of the tuber is exposed above the soil line–yes, that’s correct–the top of the tuber just barely above the soil line. Then mulch very lightly over the top with something lightweight and easy for the leaves and flowers to push through, such as pine straw, soil conditioner, or a very light dusting of partially composted leaves. Excellent drainage is essential for success with cyclamen and exposing the top of the tuber ensures that water will not settle in and rot the crown. Competition from tree roots also helps and this makes Cyclamen coum one of the best perennials for planting directly in the root zone of larger trees.

Well, it’s a beautiful day here and I need to get to work, but I hope this tidbit of information about one of my favorite garden plants has whetted your appetite enough to do a little research and include one of my garden favorites in your own garden.