Cyclamen and Perennial Bulbs

Judy Glattstein
Tue, 13 May 2008 06:35:30 PDT
Dell had asked, longer ago than I should have delayed my response but it 
is Spring, how well cyclamen grow outdoors in my garden. I'm in New 
Jersey, just a couple of miles from the Delaware River, gardening on 
clay, gardening in scruffy woods. Cyclamen coum, C. hederifolium, C. 
purpurascens all grow, but not as exuberantly  as they did in 
Connecticut. There, I had that gardener's mythical holy grail of moist 
but well drained soil, high in organic matter. The one-acre site had 
five 100-year old white oak trees as canopy, with dogwoods naturally 
occurring understory. I could, using my fingers, make planting holes for 
reasonably large hosta. Here, I use an 8 pound mattock. In Connecticut 
the above-mentioned cyclamen self-sowed with abandon. Baby cyclamen, 
with tubers like tiny pink pearls of caviar would wait for me to rescue 
them before starvation conditions did them in, plopped as they were on 
top of the mother tuber. And C. europeum  and C. rholfseanum also grew well.

Fast forward to New Jersey. As well as the soil (which is not bad, for 
clay. It is fertile, and doesn't turn into slime with rain, or adobe 
when it doesn't rain) I have shale. And deer, groundhogs, white-footed 
deer mice, and voles. The cat takes care of rabbits, the few squirrels 
are not a problem, and there aren't too many chipmunks.

Arisaema triphyllum is native on the site, all over the place. Arisaema 
thunbergii urashima does very well. I've lost one of three A. ringens, 
all 5 A. candidissimum, and several other species. No A. sikokianum, 
even though I moved several from a vigorous population in Connecticut 
when I moved garden 12 years ago.

Other native geophytes on the street include Erythronium americanum, 
Dicentra cucullaria, Sanguinaria canadensis. I've moved starts of all 
three from the side of the road where people tend to pull over to go 
trout fishing in the Nishisackiwick Creek. They've done well.

Other majorly successful geophytes include Arisarum proboscoideum, 
Anemone blanda, Anemone ranunculoides, Anemone nemorosa ('Vestal' seems 
especially happy) and Anemone flaccida. The last is much happier than in 
Connecticut. Leucojum vernum is quite happy. I got my start from a 
friend in Connecticut, who thought they were snowdrops, didn't know from 
snowflakes. She dug a trowel-full for me, and they've never looked back, 
in both of my gardens.

Galanthus are happy: nivalis and cultivars such as Virid-Apice, a couple 
of doubles. G. woronowii, G. elwesii. Had a few bulbs of G. nivalis 
regina-olgae that developed in a huge colony. Said to myself, really 
need to divide this. I really did, 'cause one year it all just 
disappeared, vanished entirely. If I were a public garden I'd have 
called it finger-blight. But here? Doubt it.

Camassia likes New Jersey clay, as apparently do an assortment of 
colchicums - autumnale, autumnale album plenum, several of the usual 
cultivars. Hyacinths repeat nicely, as do a range of narcissus - older 
cultivars like 'Thalia', poeticus Division IX cultivars, cyclamineus 
Division VI cultivars, and various trumpets and large cup cultivars.

Hyacinthoides hispanicus grows excellently well. I just dug a clump out 
of a path (path moved, bulbs moved, maybe both . . ) that my husband had 
run over with the quad and cart while moving firewood - anything in a 
path is at risk. The tire went over the middle of the clump early on. 
The leaves were crumpled, but not completely mangled. I separated the 
bulbs from the one clump into 8 groups of 5 to 10 bulbs each (fewer 
large ones, more smaller ones) and donated to a plant swap. 
Hyacinthoides are just coming into bloom. I too, will have to go look at 
stamen / pollen color when they open.

Fritillaria meleagris does well, so does F. imperialis even though it is 
on the partially shaded subsoil slope behind the house (subsoil because 
the land was cut down to make a plateau on which the house was built.) 
They have multiplied, they flower nicely, and I never cover them - 
didn't think of it to tell you the truth. They appear, night 
temperatures drop, they slump to the ground. Next day the sun comes up, 
temperatures warm, and the fritillaria resurrect themselves. I've 
noticed that the bulbs with pollinated flowers, forming seed, stay green 
longer than the non-seed-setting shoots.

Alliums - the large cultivars like Lucy Ball and Rien Portvliet are 
doing well - repeating and very slowly making offsets on the same slope 
as the crown imperials. Other alliums elsewhere, but I need to check 
names / spelling. I do remember Allium ursinium, planted in amongst 
yellow dead-nettle, a very pretty combination right now.

I had canna  wintering outdoors next to the house, where my Musa basjoo 
winter over. But one cold season the voles moved in and ate every last 
scrap of canna rhizomes, also all the yellow-flowered  Alstroemeria.

This is getting overly long. So yes, I have successes. I also have 
failures. And in-between situations. But then, that's what gardening is 
all about. And sharing experiences with friends.


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