This week we’re talking about the easy-to-grow garden perennials called Geraniums, not the ‘Geraniums’ you buy for the pots! These two plants are easily confused as they are both the member of the same plant family, but modern botany separates them out into 2 different Genera of plants - where many garden centres still confuse us by calling them the same thing!
The hardy Geranium for the garden is a joyful plant for the lazy/busy gardener (delete where applicable), as it flowers for months and will happily grow with diddly squat of care - spreading and colonising more space each year via its fleshy roots and its promiscuous seed dispersal. Ideally suited to a site which doesn’t waterlogg, and from full sun to partial shade these Geraniums will flower from June through to September, throwing out a second flush of flowers if you do chop them half down after the first flush of flowers is fading.
Ideal for slopes and banks which may have good soil in them, but are awkward to cut as a lawn or for filling gaps in existing borders and shrub bed Geraniums will set about this mission with gusto, doubling in size each year. Once established they can be happily dug up, split into 2 or 3 smaller plants are re spaced out or used to fill other gaps. As mentioned above the also spread via their distinctive seeds, spreading out into new gaps in the borders, preventing weed growth.
I’ve used Geraniums in many gardens to fill awkward spaces below larger shrubs and difficult spots at the back of deep flower beds, filling these gaps with ground cover shrubs like Geraniums not only gives extra depth to the bed, but it also covers bare ground which weeds may fill, or fertility lost through exposure to rain.
The flowers of Geraniums are much loved by beneficial insects, so are well worth including in perennial planting in a fruit or vegetable garden, or beside roses and other more ‘bug prone’ plants.
Available in a range of colours from white, pink, blues and purples (and even new varieties such as Jolly Jewel Salmon, which as the name suggests is a salmon colour, they have a good potential to add a cooling blue colour to the back garden, especially if you’re looking to create a calm, relaxing back garden.
Visit your local garden today and you’re sure to see a good selection of hardy geraniums available, recently I picked up a few in Cooneys Garden Centre in Letterkenny, Vincent in the Plant Centre was showing me a new delivery they had in and I knew just the spot on my garden for a few - under a Japanese Maple….hopefully give me one less place to weed!