Hardy Geraniums

IMG_4806

Commonly knows as cranesbills, hardy geraniums are quick-growing, mounded perennials covered in five-petaled, veined flowers in shades of pink, purple, white, and blue. They produce an abundance of small flowers for over half the year, so the continual color is a true benefit.  IMG_4813

Their common name of cranesbill comes from the shape of their seed pod, shown here in a great photo from robsplants.com:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have members of the undemanding cranesbills filling holes and overflowing beds all over these gardens, since the plants thrive in moist soil. IMG_4803

IMG_4819

Their foliage is pretty and varied, and also easy to prune.  Cutting back these plants is essential, and I’ve divided them in the fall and pulled up dozens of volunteers as well.  There are hundreds of varieties of hardy geraniums.  I can’t identify the plants by their flower color and leaves alone (they were planted by other gardeners), but two of the varieties at Coppertop look a lot like Johnson’s Blue and Roxanne to me.

The foliage of the Geranium sanguineum is more spiky and delicate than the other varieties. I confess that last year I pulled up clumps of these, thinking they were weeds. Most have returned undaunted. IMG_4815

IMG_4814

IMG_4812

Translated as bloody cranesbill, their green leaves darken to crimson in autumn, which is something I missed out on last fall.  It’s this autumn coloring that has given the plant its name.

I’ve never been a big fan of old-fashioned annual or summer “geraniums” in their orangey red shades, which are actually in the genus Pelargonium.  Their furry leaves and strong aroma don’t appeal to me, but they are some folks’ idea of summer in a pot. In Italy we grew lovely ivy-leaved geraniums that trailed out of planters in the hot summer sun. I’ve also been attracted to gorgeous, scented-leaved geraniums and fancy-leaved zonal geraniums — all of which are actually pelargoniums, pretty much annuals in zone 8 and below, and none of which I grow at Coppertop. Maybe it’s time to change that and find some nicely scented beauties for my deck pots.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s