White Cloud

'White Cloud'
Autumn Cyclamen


"They are terribly white:
There is snow on the ground,
And a moon on the snow at night;
The sky is cut by the winter light;
Yet I, who have all these things in ken,
Am struck to the heart by the chiselled white
Of this handful of cyclamen."

"Cyclamens" by Michael Field
pseud. of Katherine Bradley (1848-1914)
& Edith Cooper (1862-1913)

   

White CloudWhen I spotted this pewtered or silver-leaf Cyclamen hederifolium at a local nursery as the lone example amidst a great many regular autumn cyclamens, I grabbed it at once. I was amazed that it was only three dollars, as from cyclamen specialists these are rarely offered at all, & when they are, they're quite pricy.

As my plant purchases for that afternoon were being tallied, the vendor came to this silver-leaf cyclamen, snatched it out of the box, & clutching the plant to his chest exclaimed, "Oh! I never saw this one! You can't have it, it's not for sale, I'm taking it home for my garden." Then with mischievous grin he added, "Just kidding."

White CloudThe leaves of C. hederifolium ssp hederifolium forma albiflorum 'White Cloud' are almost purely silvered or pewtered, with the faintest tracings of green & white veining at the edges of some but not all the leaves. The leaves are bluntly heart-shaped & unlobed, rather than the usual deckled arrowhead which is more common for the species.

Such approaching-round silvered leaves greatly resemble pewter-leaf forms of Cyclamen coum, except that 'White Cloud' has leaves three times the size of C. coum; indeed, larger than for most C. hederifolium varieties too. The intensity is the silvering can vary from specimen to specimen, but on ours is quite evenly clouded & iridescent.

White Cloud'White Cloud' has white flowers that pop out of the ground in July well ahead of any leaves, increase in number in August, then are slowly joined by leaves by late September. Most of the other C. hederifolium specimens we have scattered around the gardens don't start blooming until September though a few jump the gun in August & fewer still before July's end, but 'White Cloud' (in 2005 at least) was producing flowers way ahead of the rest.

The flower photos on this page are from August & early September respectively before leaves are appearing. When leaves appear there will still be flowers right up to the start of October, then a brief interuption in bloom as the clump concentrates on developing its leaves, & back in flower again befor October's end, as in the first photo above. When it finally stops bloom at some point in November, the gorgeous leaves will remain through the whole of winter & into early spring.

There is a pink-flowered version with leaves almost as evenly silvered, called 'Silver Cloud.' Both varieties were bred by Phil Cornish, a cyclamen specialist of Gloucestershire, England. He derived them with selective breeding of cyclamens from the Apollo Group though 'Silver Cloud' & 'White Cloud' no longer resemble that ancestor. On ours there is close to nothing remaining of the original Apollo leaf's double-shield, but some specimens will have a ghostly tracing of the Apollo double-shield evident upon careful inspection.

This was such a large-leafed & generally outstanding variety that I gave it a prize position underneath the Lion's-head Japanese maple by the back door. A large number of "Tommy" crocuses are planted all about the same area, so as the cyclamen is dying back in spring, the crocuses are coming into their own to dominate the location.

Continue to
Cyclamen hederifollium, Bowles' Apollo Group

   



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