The Oxalis triangularis were spotted with rust and the sweet peas were mildewed in a pair of pots and I couldn’t bear the sight of them any longer so I carefully dug up the oxalis to dry to grow again next year and composted the sweet peas and planted my first autumn pots.
These are autumn and not winter pots because I know the plants in them will not last through till spring. These ‘hardy’ cyclamen are so useful and lovely that I can never resist them, especially when their fragrance wafts into my nostrils at the garden centre. They are bred from Cyclamen persicum and are not very hardy. They will take a few frosts but what really kills them is their dense growth that holds on to moisture and encourages grey mould that spreads through the plants and turns them to mush. I always make sure they are planted very shallow to avoid burying the base of the leaves and never crowd them so they can get some air around them. If you can keep them through the first year they are usually less dense the second year and may survive better – they make good potplants for a cool, bright windowsill and can keep growing and flowering for many months. They are ideal for pots outside that are sheltered from rain but I would never use them in the open garden.
Anyway I used them around a pot of Erica sparsa. I had never seen this before and the plants were actually labelled Erica baccans ‘Sparsa’ but Erica baccans is very different and E. sparsa seems more likely. If this is the correct name it is a species from South Africa where it is called pink smoke for its wispy growth and masses of tiny blooms. I am pretty sure it will not take too much frost so this and the cyclamen will probably be past their best by the new year. Then I will take them out and replace them.
I did put a layer of narcissus ‘W P Milner’ under the cyclamen and erica and these will stay here and when the cyclamen come out I will add pansies on top, to flower until the next replacement in May.