Geranium – ‘a Splendid Subject’

The milder temperatures and the increased length in days at this time of year help to transfer my thoughts onto the summer ahead and the promise of the herbaceous perennials in my garden coming to the forefront. One genus that I rely on more than any other for producing consistent displays throughout the summer is the Genus Geranium.

This is a large genus of around 300 species commonly know as cranesbills due to the long beak like seedpod of which some wild forms can be found growing naturally in our hedgerows. The famous plantsman Graham Stuart Thomas states that they ‘are easy and extremely valuable plants for the furnishing or borders, both as ground covers and producers of beautiful flowers, and are amenable to cultivation’.

Most geraniums are very easy to grow and will grow in a wide range of soil types although some do like free draining soil the ones listed below will be happy in most soils with the exception of boggy ones.

Most geraniums develop quite quickly and plants can be increased easily by division, best carried out around this time of year allowing you to bulk up planting.

The six geraniums selected below provide a trouble free backbone to my garden from now (April) until the end of the season. As the plantsman Arthur Tysilio Johnson stated, ‘It has always been a matter of astonishment to me that such splendid subjects as the hardy geraniums are so rarely grown in the average garden.’

They can be used in mixed borders, herbaceous borders or as effective groundcover. The types below that are especially effective as ground cover are G. ‘Wargrave Pink’, G ‘sambor’ and G. macrorrhum.

Geranium ‘Brookside’ – A relatively new cultivar of compact habit with clear blue flowers that are produced over several months from late spring to mid summer. Attractive deeply cut foliage that can develop a red tinge at the end of the season suitable for sun or partial shade.

Geranium endressii ‘Wargrave Pink’ – Suitable for full sun or light shade. Has beautifully veined flowers and a slightly glossy foliage, and provides pink over several months starting in June. As stated previously, this is a very effective groundcover plant.

Geranium phaeum var. Phaeum ‘Samobor’ – This stunning plant is best grown in full sun or light shade. Its striking leaves resemble that of a zonal pelargonium deeply zoned leaves. These are further enhanced by its purple flowers produced from Mid April to June. After flowering I normally cut the foliage hard back to encourage the plant to produce a fresh flush of the highly attractive foliage.

Geranium ‘Patricia’ – This relatively new cultivar is a cross between G. psilostemon and G. endresii captures many of the attributes of both parents providing very attractive pink flowers from May to September. Grows to 60cm is best grown in full sun.

Geranium psilostemon – Suitable for the middle or back of a border  as it grows to a metre in height. Attractive leaves are followed by stunning magenta flowers.  Geranium psilostemon is grown best in full sun and should be given some support.

Geranium macrorrhizum – A semi evergreen geranium that holds onto some of its foliage during the winter months unlike the other ones selected here. The scented leaves provide very effective groundcover with attractive pink blooms above the foliage in late spring / early summer.


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