Barry’s Magical Cyclamen

Barry’s cyclamen have begun their yearly emergence from dormancy and his small, cold greenhouse is alive with them. My own few pots of Cylamen coum (gifts from Barry, of course) have also begun to emerge, although I have noticed that they are behind his.

What you see in this photo isn’t even half of Barry’s collection — there has got to be at least a hundred — pots upon pots upon more pots that he raised from seed seven years ago. He has transplanted some outside into the garden where they have propagated into a million different leaf patterns, colours, and forms. It’s fun to pull back the leaf mulch and observe these tiny new creatures. What new designs will we find? Barry keeps his favourites in pots in the glasshouse where he can enjoy them more closely.

It is down to Barry’s influence that I sometimes find myself eyeing the cyclamen pots at the supermarket. In fact, I’ve noticed that even he can’t stop himself from looking. Just the other day we were walking down the street and he too had to pause to evaluate and consider every cluster of cyclamen pots on display outside the numerous greengrocers on Roncessvalles Ave.

But they are inferior, these florist industry plants bred to go beyond their natural state, producing gigantic, colourful blooms and monstrous leaves that span the palm of my hand. Big isn’t always better. They are infirm. As far as I know they have lost the ability to survive through the winter outdoors (perhaps I am too harsh. I should conduct an experiment). They are not meant to last. They catch your eye for a moment, but they lack the magic and charming delicacy that captivates my eye when I visit Barry’s plants.

Back in the greenhouse there is always something to see; some elongated leaf shape I had never noticed before or a plant that grows its leaves all around the edges of the pot rather than distributed throughout that makes me wonder how there can be so much variety and how much more is possible.

It is early days yet. The big show has only just begun. Wait until next month when the room is full of tiny, jewel-toned flowers. I promise to go back with a proper camera so that you can see.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “Barry’s Magical Cyclamen

  1. t-t-t-t-that’s a lot of beautiful cyclamen… the one photo where he’s holding up the pot, wow… just, wow.
    I have a new appreciation for cyclamen!
    Now to look for interesting plants to buy… for myself…

  2. Love cyclamen and these are beautiful photos! They look so healthy and almost like silk flowers. I need to do some research and see if they will thrive in Florida.

  3. Cyclamen pots are really very beautiful. All picture prints are awesome but the firt one is best and i love it. Thanks for the sharing!

  4. I love cyclamen. His are so beautiful, and I never knew they could take so many different forms. One wee question- are they growing in gravel, or is that just a top-dressing to mulch the soil?

  5. Living on the North Coast of Oregon I found that a cloche (I placed it to prevent freezing) allowed my cyclamen to put out blooms in February – WOW what a treat!

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