Cyclamen, pansies, tomatoes and abundance

I have always loved cyclamen.  When we first came here nearly nine years ago I longed to establish cyclamen, both autumn flowering cyclamen hederifolium and February flowering cyclamen coum.  I must have bought ten plants of each variety and most of those have simply disappeared.  I longed for them to naturalise and to fill the dry shade under the tree in the side garden but it seemed that only one or two hung on.   Then suddenly this autumn I saw the slender flowers gathering quietly under the tree, certainly twice the size of last year's patch.  Now the flowers are going over and the equally beautiful marbled leaves are patterning the dry soil.  I love them.  They can double and treble and multiply to their hearts' content and I hope they will.  This is an image from the RHS which perfectly captures the delicacy of the flowers.


I have written before about Plant me Now, an online plant sales business, and I have always been impressed with their plants.  When they asked me if I would like to review some for winter containers I thought at once of cyclamen, not the hardy ones I have out in the garden but the slightly tender perennials which are often used in containers, cyclamen persicum.  They really earn their keep in containers as they flower for a long time and they share with all cyclamen varieties the beautiful foliage which is lovely in its own right.


These are the cyclamen as they will be in full flower.  The difference between the species and these hybrids is like the difference between a bare faced girl and one in full make up.  These are brighter and almost blowsy by comparison in these photographs but in containers they shine throughout the winter, even in snow, and are one of the most cheering sights you could see.

As always the plants arrive carefully packaged and in good health.  Plant me now plants are well grown, not artificially rushed into growth.   They are not the kind which are great when you get them and then slowly decline, but sturdy and strong.


This is what you see when you open up the packaging, five sturdy little plants ready for potting on.  I haven't planted the containers up yet because I want to layer up tulip bulbs below the cyclamen and I haven't even made my tulip order yet.  It will do the cyclamen no harm to stay in their larger pots for a few more weeks until I am ready to put the tulips in.  Anyway, we have had such a glorious September that the geraniums in the large terracotta pots are still flowering fit to burst.  I always have trouble deciding when to take them out, cut them back and put them in the greenhouse.  Some years I have just missed the moment and the frosts have got them but this year I think taking out the geraniums towards the end of October will slot nicely in with the tulip planting.


I also have some violas from Plant me now which will do another container for the front of the holiday cottage, underplanted with yet more tulips.  These are Viola Blue Blotch.  These little plants will eventually look like this:


I love the intensity of the colour.  These plants have doubled in size since I potted them on.  I am interested to see on the Plant me Now website that reviews are accumulating and that they overwhelmingly endorse my own experience of the quality of the plants and of the service.  This is just my own opinion, not an advert by the way.  I was provided with the plants to review but I only ever do reviews that allow me to say exactly what I think!

The other thing which is on my mind and in my kitchen by the bucketload is tomatoes!


We may have lost hold of the outside  garden this year but the greenhouse is overflowing with tomatoes and cucumbers. The yellow tomatoes are Golden Sunrise.  They look as if they might not be quite ripe but they surprise with the intensity and sweetness of their flavour.  The little ones are the old favourite, Gardener's Delight.  They are like sweets, bursting with flavour in your mouth, almost fizzing like a sherbet dip.  They are fabulous just eaten as they are but we have had so many tomatoes I have been making a tomato sauce for pasta to go into the freezer.  This is really easy and deeply flavoursome.
 
Take a kilo of tomatoes and skin them.   I used to try to persuade myself that it didn't matter whether tomatoes are skinned or not and in many recipes it doesn't but in this one it really does.  Skinning tomatoes is extremely easy.  Cut a little cross in the base of the tomato with a sharp knife, put them all in a heat proof bowl and cover them with boiling water.  Leave them for about ten minutes and then take each one out on a slotted spoon and remove the skin with your fingers.

Chop the skinned tomatoes, season them with salt and pepper and cook them gently in a little olive oil.

Add about a tablespoon of tomato puree, a tablespoon or so of soft brown sugar, a handful of chopped oregano and a glass of red wine.  Simmer it gently until it is thick and glossy.  When the sauce is cool, freeze it in blocks (we use old ice cream boxes).  It makes a perfect base for a tomatoey pasta dish.  When you defrost it, chop and gently fry  a couple of cloves of garlic and add it to the sauce.  If you put the garlic in at the beginning and freeze the sauce with the garlic in it, the garlic seems to go musty.

What an abundance of colour and taste  there seems to be just now.

Comments

  1. I must admit to a preference for the paler colours of the cyclamen species. I'm glad they are thriving in your garden. Something is eating mine I think (as if!!) because although flowers have been extremely sparse the leaves are now coming up OK.

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    1. I had leaves but no flowers for a couple of years before the flowers seemed to settle down.

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  2. Beautiful shots and what a greenhouse crop! Thanks for sharing and Happy Autumn,

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    1. The tomatoes are still coming! And the cucumbers. Not complaining, mind!

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  3. I so love cyclamen, they are on my list to establish here. Your recipe sounds gorgeous, but I had a mediocre year on the tomato front, so apart from the very disappointing trendy black ones ( destined for chutney) mine are nearly over. Mt parsley has done really well though, so pesto is on the cards!

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    1. Interesting. We grow Black Krim as one of ours and it is generally very good, perhaps a bit less so this year because the crop was very small but tasty all the same. Which one did you try?

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  4. Love your pansies, the colour is gorgeous. I have a huge amount of Roma tomatoes this year. I canned 8 pints of tomato sauce and still have loads left. We've been eating them and giving them away to any one that wants them.

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    1. We have had so many tomatoes I have contemplated giving them away for the first time ever!

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  5. I love cyclamen but they just refuse to establish in my garden, yet flourish next door! Bah! So I enjoy them as I walk up my drive which overlooks their shady patch of cyclamen. ~~~waving~~~

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    1. I would keep trying with cyclamen. They are so very beautiful!

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  6. Elizabeth, thank you so much for this glorious festival of color!

    I raise my hand as another cyclamen fan...I've got a pot of beautiful red cyclamen on my windowsill right now...even in my awful growing conditions, I've managed to keep them abloom for several weeks.

    How marvelous that you are able to actually nuture these lovely plants and have them multiply. I agree with you about their leaves also being very attractive.

    Your tomato crops have got me really envious. Love the varieties that you've grown...and thanks also for the recipe. The idea of freezing summer in batches to last through chilly winter days is a fine one.

    Best wishes to you and yours. xo

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    1. I do like freezing summer in batches Frances. What a lovely phrase for it!

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  7. I love cyclamen, but have never had any luck getting plants established here (maybe they'll show up long after we're gone!)
    Currently getting ready to make up a batch of green tomato chutney -- scads of those, and a few did manage to ripen, but nothing like your riches!

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    1. Usually we have green tomatoes by the kilo but we have had such a glorious hot and sunny September that the red ones just keep on coming!

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  8. I love those little not (quite?) hardy cyclamen and usually have them in the conservatory: but I never manage to keep them happy. Still, a row of reds.....even if they don't last, neither does a bunch of flowers!

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    1. And they do last better than flowers and the leaves in themselves are worth studying!

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  9. years ago in Monaco, I saw lush cyclamen planted in windowboxes on the balcony of an apartment block. Such an upmarket stylish windowbox!

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  10. One of my favorite paintings is one of cyclamen in a pot on a windowsill by Winifred Nicholson - I love them but have never grown them. It was lovely to meet you by the way, I wish now I had had a proper chat.

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  11. I love the little Cyclamen hederifolium as much for the beautifully patterned leaves as for the delicate flowers. If you find the right spot they spread happily under the trees. I always give them a top dressing, some bonemeal and a good soaking in August.
    I envy you all those tomatoes. I' ve given them up because of the blight.

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    1. Never done the top dressing. Might need to give that a try!

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  12. Cyclamens are fascinating as they seem far too exotic to be totally hardy . I have tried them but they did a disappearing act, but unlike yours, they never reappeared !
    Lovely to be eating those summery tomato sauces in the depths of winter! You must have had a cracking tomato fest of a harvest !

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    1. I am beginning to think that cyclamen need serious persistence. When they do eventually acclimatise they seem very forgiving of harsh conditions, but they take their time!

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