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Cyclamen Circus

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One of my favorite flowers is the cyclamen. For years I tried to coax the hardier varieties into bloom in a shady nook of the garden, with extremely limited success. I managed only one season of bloom, and the blooms were so small I almost missed them. (It doesn’t help that their foliage dies back in the middle of summer so there’s nothing to remind you that they’re still there.) I gave up after that, and so did the cyclamen, despite their supposed Zone 5 hardiness.

It wasn’t until a trip to Seattle that I was able to see them blooming outside in their natural habitat, and they were a joy to behold. Like little pink or white butterflies, the blooms floated just above the ground. Though small, the masses and clumps were of such number as to make an impact on any traveler lucky enough to pass their way.

The cyclamen seen here are the ones you’ll find in florist shops – overblown and hybridized, they put the wild cyclamen to shame with their showy blooms and boffo foliage. They’re a garish and gaudy version of the more elegant outdoor variety, and there are pros and cons to both I suppose. Sometimes I long for the simple and small, other times I want big, bold and banging.

Either way, a flower is a welcome sight at this time of the year.

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