Having tried and failed to grow roses, which had been placed carefully in an area of the garden getting the benefit of full sunshine, we realised, apart from the tough Rosa Rugosa hedge and those thriving successfully against the walls of the house, that we would have to grow something else in the area which, for a few years only, had been the Rose Bed.
Though our annual and perennial poppies liven things up for a few short weeks each year with their vibrant palette of yellows, oranges and reds, the overall colour scheme throughout the garden is made up mainly of calming tones of white, pink, lavender, lilac, mauve, blue, purple and violet. These cooler colours gave me the idea to transform the Rose Bed into one which would incorporate a large variety of geraniums, more commonly known as cranesbills, with a border of violas.
In shades of sky-blue, mid-blue and violet-purple we have Johnson’s Blue, Pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’, Wallichianum ‘Buxton’s Variety’, Pratense ‘Splish Splash’ and ‘Magnificum’. As a contrast, Renardii has white flowers veined with violet, whereas Clarkei is white with soft-pink-veined flowers. The Spring-flowering Phaeum, known as the mourning widow, has dark maroon flowers, while its cousin ‘Variegatum’ has foliage with white margins. Both of the tallest ones we have, Psilostemon with mid-green leaves and Ann Folkard with golden-green foliage, have deep magenta flowers with black eyes. Summer Skies, on the other hand, has mauve-pink flowers with double blooms.
The multiple merits of geraniums are to be shouted from the rooftops. As well as being very hardy, they give trouble-free growth with excellent ground cover even in dappled shade, are easily propagated - making them great presents for ones’ gardening friends, are resistant to most pests, have a superb range of colours, and offer exceptionally long flowering periods from Spring through to Autumn. For all those reasons, even if I had the tiniest of gardens, I would not be without them. As far as I am concerned they are little garden gems.