A week or two ago I made a visit to Montrose, a garden on the National Register of Historic Places.

Montrose house front

The 61-acre property has been owned and maintained by Nancy and Craufurd Goodwin since 1977. Although lovely at all times of the year, it is supposed to be particularly attractive in the winter. Although the Goodwins don’t work strictly organically, they don’t use pesticides extensively, and they do relatively little supplemental watering, choosing to rely instead on the “right plant, right place” concept.

Nancy is particularly interested in cyclamen. She grows then from seed (a project I am hoping to undertake myself this winter with advice from bittster), and has allowed them to naturalize over the property.

dawn redwood with cyclamen

Two massive dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) grow to the left of the house. Beneath the sequoias, which are deciduous, are masses of naturalized groundcovers including aquilegias, minor bulbs, and Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen hederifolium.

It’s a clever pairing: The cyclamen like it dry during their summer dormancy, when the redwoods are in leaf and glad to soak up the soil moisture. And when the redwoods are dormant in the winter, the glorious cyclamen flowers can show their stuff.

cyclamen foliage

Cyclamen hederifolium (ivy-leaved cyclamen) in flower in October.

I have always assumed cyclamen to be difficult to grow and quite tender, but Nancy advises that is not the case. She allows the redwood leaves to fall and mulch the ground, slowly decomposing and building up the spongy soil the cyclamen like. She loves the yellow winter blanket the redwood leaves make; they set off the marbled green leaves elegantly. I shall have to go back and see.cyclamen hederifolium