Drought Proof Blooms

It has been years (2007) since we have experienced a dry stretch like this one in Birmingham. Standing out in the garden holding a water hose, I am always eager for some cheering up. These two old fashioned bulbs do just that.

Cyclamen hederifolium, or hardy cyclamen.

Cyclamen hederifolium, or hardy cyclamen

Cyclamen hederifolium, or hardy cyclamen, is not that Christmas houseplant we find in the grocery store. Far more subtle, smaller of leaf and bloom, hardy cyclamen are fully hardy for us and are blooming now with pink to white one inch blooms. Later, variegated leaves emerge with interesting grey to silver patterning. Blooming continues for weeks, and the wonderful foliage is present for months. The shallow tubers resemble nothing other than hockey pucks, and I have planted them among the surface roots of oak trees along a garden path. Over the years, ants have distributed seeds widely, giving me little pockets of color in unexpected places. I bought a whole flat of these little gems at the Birmingham Botanical Garden Fall Plant Sale several years ago, and they have multiplied steadily.

Spider Lilies

Spider lilies

Elsewhere in the garden is a large colony of Lycoris radiata, or red spider lilies, that came free of charge when I bought this old house. These heirloom bulbs are passed along from gardeners to friends, and occasionally encountered in the retail nursery. I usually can find offerings on the internet. These bulbs are also shallowly planted, hardy plants with winter foliage that emerges after blooming. My spider lilies have been showing their bright red, spider-like blooms for a couple of weeks now. Each bloom lasts only a few days, but the bulbs produce many offsets, so you will see clumps of blooms which may give you color for a week or two. These red blooms are a favorite of the yellow sulphur butterflies, which mass and feed on this colony of spider lilies, an amazing sight at this time of year.
Hardy cyclamen planted among the surface roots of oak trees along a garden path.

Hardy cyclamen planted among the surface roots of oak trees along a garden path.

Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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