Our Grumpy Gardener On Day-Glo Tools

The Grumpy Gardener – November
Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online, professional gardener Mike Alexander, praises the inventor of the day-glo , easy-to-find-in-the-long-grass gardening tool and leaves some of us wondering if they could be made to respond to  a whistle .

Cyclamen hederifolium for a dull time of the year

Cyclamen flower at a dull time of the year

After a very dry summer here the heavy autumn rains have caused the lawns to kick back with a vengeance forcing me to do more mowing and strimming than I would normally at this time of year. 

An unintended bonus for my efforts has been the rediscovery of a lost weeding knife and a trowel that I had thought gone forever. They both went zinging dangerously through the air when clipped by the strimmer..

I have a gift for putting down tools and then never seeing them again — if my clients had any idea how much time I spend wandering around in circles trying to find vital missing items I am sure they would insist on some free overtime. I am of the firm opinion that Norway should award a Nobel Prize to the genius who invented those hand tools with bright day glow red or fluorescent orange handles. He has done more for horticulture than all the TV garden designers put together. But then again I may be alone in my muddled little bubble whilst all you efficient gardeners out there have total recall over where you left that trowel you had just a moment earlier.

Autumn flowering Cyclamen hederifolium are out at the moment bringing bright patches of colour to areas that might otherwise seem dull at this time of year. I have a couple of displays of them in a rockery that I planted up about four years ago and which have spread year on year with very little effort on my part.

They are tuberous perennials that are best planted about three centimetres deep in September or October. They can cope with deep shade but do best in dappled shade. Their tolerance of dry conditions makes them ideal plants for colonising under trees but they also look great planted tightly into terracotta pots. I recently visited a chateau near Bordeaux where swathes of them in some wooded areas really turned the area into something magic. Next year I will try planting them under my roses to give a last minute touch of colour in the autumn when the roses themselves are no longer doing much.

Cyclamen can cope with deep shade but do best in dappled shade


Other than mulching with a layer of compost or leaf mould during their dormant summer period I do practically nothing to these hardy little plants. They shrivel into the ground and as they are just below the surface I have to remember not to damage them when working in areas where they are growing.

Unless the summer is really dry as it was this year I don’t even water them and even this year I really only made sure the soil was moist.

The only real difficulty with cyclamen is deciding which way up to plant the tubers which have a slightly confusing mushroom shaped appearance. The smooth side is planted facing upwards and I am told that even if you get it wrong the stems will eventually make their way to the surface though this may take longer than you would like.

Previously – click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring…
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You’ve got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine – Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad – on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity – not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
If Winter Comes….
Hottest chilli in the world
Dogs and Daffodils... full story - click this image
The iris and Madame la Guillotine... full story - click this image
Dog Days…
Fleur de Lys
Hedge You Bets - how do YOU like your hedges... full story - click this image
To read a previous article
– click an image –
Hedge Your Bets

Grumpy Gardener

Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Writer: Mike Alexander

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