Stars in their own right.

This is the time of year when we can see how busy the ants have been. I suppose really what we are looking at is the result of what the ants were doing a few years ago, as it takes any seeds of Cyclamen hederifolium a few years to make corms big enough to reach flowering size. They really are the stars of the woodland and shady places at the moment.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

We started out with a few deep pink ones and one white one. Now we have deep pink, pale pink and lots of white popping up where I know I didn’t plant any.

Cyclamen hederifolium

In this photo, you can see the seed pods that coil back on themselves. When the seed is ripe it is covered with a sweet sticky substance which the ants love. The ants take the seed, then I suppose, like us when we were children, when they get half way home, stop, and eat the sugary coating, dropping the seed and go back for more.

Cyclamen hederifolium

They are now spreading nicely, the original one here was the pale pink one at the top, the white ones have appeared all by themselves.

Cyclamen hederifolium

This white one has appeared right up against the base of one of our ash trees, somewhere that I would never think of planting one, accompanied by the berries of the wild arum. Are those spread by ants too, I wonder, or is it just the blackbirds that spread the seed of the arum about.

Cyclamen hederifolium

I’m beginning to think that I have more white flowering corms than pink ones.

Cyclamen hederifolium

No matter what colour they turn out to be, they are the only flowers that I have in the woodland at the moment, so they have earned the title of Star Performers. I look forward to them opening each year, they will soon be joined by Colchicum and Liriope muscari, but for now they take centre stage and keep this gardener very happy!

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24 Responses to Stars in their own right.

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Your Cyclamen must be a treat scattered through the woodland. I have never tried growing them outdoors, but they’re one of the few plants I keep indoors and they bloom almost nonstop.

    • Pauline says:

      These are tiny hardy cyclamen Susie, not the tender variety which is sold as pot plants for indoors in the winter. Cyclamen hederifolium flower from now till December, then Cyclamen coum take over and flower from January to April. The flowers are only about 3 or 4 inches tall and have beautiful foliage, all plants have different foliage.

  2. rusty duck says:

    How much shade can they actually take? I ask because I have some under a small acer and they seem to be struggling. I’m wondering if they’ll do better with a bit more light. Yours are looking glorious.

    • Pauline says:

      They can take a lot of shade Jessica, I have some under rhododendrons and horse chestnut trees and they are flowering nicely. Do yours have nice leaf mould soil around them, I usually mulch with that each year. I think yours will improve with age as the corms get bigger, but they do like a mulch, hope they’re better for you next year.

  3. Angie says:

    These are gorgeous. I’ve just planted some of these recently – I hope they are as successful as yours. Mind you – reading Rusty Duck’s comment – they might not be!

    • Pauline says:

      Don’t worry Angie, they take a while to settle down and as I said to Jessica, they like a leaf mould mulch, that is the only treatment they get from me. They are fine in shade, the white ones especially twinkle like stars in the dark corners.

  4. Christina says:

    A real sign of autumn, I must look out for the ones on the banks when I drive into town next.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Christina, we can’t deny it any longer, autumn has arrived! It is lovely seeing them brightening up the shady areas in the woodland and other dark corners. Hope you see the ones on your drive into town. Maybe they will be a little later than us with you being a bit warmer, on the other hand they might go by the length of daylight hours?!

  5. Caro says:

    I first heard about ants distributing seeds around the garden at college last autumn, Pauline – I’m constantly amazed at how clever nature is! Your woodland garden must look really lovely with all those cyclamen to brighten up the floor!

    • Pauline says:

      Nature certainly is marvellous Caro, devising such a way to distribute the seeds of the cyclamen. If they germinated on top of their mother corm, they wouldn’t last very long. They certainly brighten up the woodland floor, it has been very quiet in there all summer with all the leaves on the trees making it so dark.

  6. Cathy says:

    Your pictures could have been taken in my garden, Pauline (except for the ones with the arums) – and you are absolutely right about them lighting up the woodland. Mine really have been stunning this year – you would hardly have noticed them last year. Certainly one plant I am happy to let spread ad infinitum!

    • Pauline says:

      It’s lovely Cathy, when they start seedling around, I would certainly never have bought so many! I once tried sowing some seed and grew them on for a bit but eventually they died, its much easier to leave it to the ants! I’m so glad yours are increasing in your garden, lovely little bright spots in the dark shadows.

  7. Anna says:

    Three cheers for those ants!!! They are usually and sadly much maligned creatures. I especially like the contrast of the white cyclamen flowers against the vivid red of the arum Pauline.

    • Pauline says:

      I agree Anna, everything has a purpose on this earth, so maybe the ants are there just for the cyclamen! The amazing thing is that we never see any ants at all, although a Green Woodpecker sometimes comes down to the lawn, so they must be there. The contrast with the arum seedheads is striking , yes, nature is wonderful.

  8. How lovely these are in the woodland setting. Enjoy! Natalie

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for visiting Natalie and leaving a message. The tiny cyclamen look very much at home in our little woodland, it is worth having a look each day to see if there are any more flowers.

  9. Gitte says:

    I have the white cyclamen hederiflium for the first time this year. I had given up on them, but they must be slow starters. Hopefully the ants will do the same job here, and spread them. They are in my woodland plot too.

    • Pauline says:

      I think Gitte, that they take a while to settle down after planting. I hope the ants spread your seed for you, it will take a few years for the new tiny corms to grow big enough to flower, so patience is needed! In a few years your woodland floor will look beautiful!

  10. Lin says:

    Wow, I did not know of the very important task the ants do here!
    Well done, your Cyclamen are really lovely!

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Lin, thanks for visiting and leaving a message. Nature is wonderful, the way everything is sorted out so that the seeds don’t land on top of the mother corm where they wouldn’t stand a chance of growing. The cyclamen really do look pretty in the woodland, brightening up the shade.

  11. Annette says:

    Having carpets of cyclamen in the garden is (yet another!) dream of mine :). Planted corms last year but up to now haven’t seen anything. Lucky girl! Enjoy them.

    • Pauline says:

      Hello Annette, the seeds take quite a few years to get to flowering size. about 3 or 4, but once they do, the display gets better and better without any input from me! Your corms will start shedding their seed, just sit back and wait!
      BTW I am having such problems with WordPress, I keep trying to leave a comment on your blog, but WordPress won’t let me, they also won’t accept my e.mail address when I click onto “follow” – I will keep trying!

  12. Annette says:

    Hi Pauline, you know what I spotted today? The first Cyclamen flowers! So thrilled and here’s hoping there’ll be more 🙂

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