Whenever visitors come into the garden and comment on the sheer numbers of geraniums growing, they invariably ask whether I have a list of plants I would recommend for their gardens. What follows is a list of my own favourites.
1. G. oxonianum 'Rebecca Moss' - the first plant I named, and in my opinion one of the best oxonianums, very pale, blush pink flowers, good clumper and very floriferous. It is sold all over the world.
2. G. 'Red Admiral' is the psilostemon x sylvaticum cross from Cyril Foster – the almost red colour, a striking break away from the magenta of psilostemon.
3. G. sylvaticum 'Amy Doncaster' - the intense dark blue with the white eye a winner for me that I always look forward to in the flowering season.
4. G. maculatum 'Spring Purple' - difficult to choose from the maculatums, I love them all, but this has such a strong purple colour with good foliage – so different to all the usual lilac/pink maculatums, and a very early flowerer.
5. G. phaeum 'Lady in Mourning' – the blackest flower of all the phaeums – with the unique red stalks that marks it out. As an alternative I love the large black flowers of 'Raven' with its lighter, yellow green foliage – difficult to choose between them.
6. G. 'Orion' – if you were to choose any blue flowered geranium, it would have to be this, with its large dark blue flowers, a worthy AGM winner.
7. G. Rozanne = 'Gerwat' – impossible not to choose this, the success story of recent geranium introductions. I love wallichianums, so it is very difficult to make a choice. As an alternative I would pick 'Crystal Lake' with its lilac blue flowers, dark eye and heavy veins.
8. G. himalayense 'Derrick Cook' – rightly chosen by Birgitte Husted Bendtsen for the cover of the next edition of her book, with its large white flowers and wonderful blue/purple veins. I saw it first at Wisley – and was bowled over by it.
9. G. x magnificum 'Blue Blood' – I came across this at Wisley too. I thought ‘I know this plant and the name is familiar too’ – it was my own plant! Somehow it had travelled from my garden, or the one or two people I had given it to, and been obtained by the Dutch nursery trade. Nobody, needless to say, has sought to give me any royalties for it. Every garden should have G. x magnificum – this is darker, more intensely veined than most selections and comes from an ibericum gymnocaulon seed selection and sowing.
10. G. ibericum 'Ushguli Grijs' – I have loved this plant ever since I first grew it from seed from the Geraniaceae Group. Grey/blue flowers, separated petals, dark almost black veins to ¾ of petal length.
11. G. sanguineum 'Elke' – another instant love story. It is so, so much better than the morass of magenta, over-named, very little different sanguineums, with a cherry reddish colour with the most delightful white edge to the flowers.
12. G. x cantabrigiense 'St Ola' – how do you choose a favourite Alan Bremner plant, so difficult. This has to be near the top of the list. Low growing, it is a carpeter par excellence even in the driest of conditions, and wonderful white flowers.
13. G. 'Orkney Dawn' is the other Bremner plant I have to have. G. renardii x peloponnesiacum, its yellow green foliage with the blue heavily veined flowers brightens up my spring. OK – choose 'Stephanie' – same cross, slightly lighter blue flowers – if you must. I won’t complain.
14. G. 'Sirak' – both Alan Bremner and Hans Simon produced plants from this gracile x ibericum cross. An AGM winner, its mauve flowers are an essential part of my summer garden. Great flowerer and easy to grow, get it.
15. G. 'Ann Folkard' – this creeping beauty is the psilostemon x procurrens hybrid I would choose over 'Anne Thompson' (Bremner). Personal preference yes – I like the way its dusky sultry magenta flowers and yellow foliage complement each other, and it straggles over walls and paths.
16. G. pratense 'Laura' or 'Double Jewel' – both these double whites are excellent and I would be hard put to pick a preference – OK 'Laura' it is. For a palest blue/lilac double, go for 'Else Lacey'. Be warned though, all the doubles suffer mildew.
17. G. nodosum 'Whiteleaf' – nodosums are wonderful value as ground cover in difficult situations. 'Whiteleaf' was the original colour break with its combination of ever changing white, velvet red flowers. Many of the newer nodosum forms are seed grown variations of this plant.
18. G. erianthum 'Calm Sea' – I have always loved this plant since Axletree first introduced it following collection near Vladivostok. It is a pale lilac blue with heavy smudged veining. It doesn’t suit all conditions, prefers a bit of damp, but is a real beauty.
19. G. phaeum 'Rise Top Lilac' – many would choose the Trevor Bath selection 'Lily Lovell' for their lilac phaeum. I would too, but 'Rise Top Lilac' is I think better. It has an absolute mass of flowers, is easier to grow, and the flowers are very, very rounded and a slightly warmer colour. But both are good.
20. For my final selection I am going to be very self indulgent and choose a plant that’s almost impossible to get hold of – G. x lindavicum 'Gypsy'. This is my favourite geranium of all time. It has the cherry-red colour of G. cinereum var. subcaulescens 'Splendens' but more intensely red, and a network of black veins and a white corona and a black heart at the centre.
An extract from an article first published in the Hardy Geranium Group Newsletter Spring 2012
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 32.
© Copyright for this article: Robin Moss
This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2013. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.