Pretty, a great filler plant, easy to grow, slug resistant but loved by bees, geraniums are a must. There are so many to choice from, but here are a few of the best.
Never ending blooms
One of the most popular geraniums and rightly so, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ has striking large blue flowers with white centres and lovely mottled foliage. Happy in sun or part shade, its spreading habit makes it great ground cover, but do give it space. Most impressive of all is its amazingly long and late flowering period, from June right through to November.
Newer hybrids include ‘Azure Rush’ a more compact version of ‘Rozanne’ with paler blue flowers and a larger white centre and ‘Lilac Ice’, a less spreading hybrid with fresh light foliage and pale lilac pink flowers. Or try ‘Pink Penny’ which will fill your garden with hot pinky/mauve flowers from June to October. (These newer hybrids take a while to get to garden centers but are available on line from Crocus or specialist nurseries.)
‘Johnson’s Blue’ is another classically popular geranium, with delicate foliage and a mass of papery blue petals from May to August. Great under roses or shrubs, in full sun or part shade – too much shade can make it a bit leggy. Similar varieties include the newer ‘Brookside,’ with masses of intense blue flowers, and its slightly bigger seedling, ‘Orion’, which has larger, more violet blue flowers, on stalks high above the foliage.
The spring flowering geranium phaeum with their wands of small flowers and striking patterned foliage are great for a shady spot – whether dry or damp, amongst ferns and snowdrops.
Geranium phaeum black widow is very stylish with its deep purple black flowers and beautiful dark leaf markings. ‘Samobor’ is very similar, with slightly browner flowers and paler leaves. Or for something less somber, ‘Alba’ has airy sparkly white flowers, great for lighting up dark corners. The more unusual varieties ‘Margaret Wilson’ with its purple flowers against and lime green variegated foliage and ‘Rose Madder’ with gorgeous brownish pink flowers are worth looking out for too.
Small and sweet
Compact, low growing (around 20cm high) with dainty flowers, geranium sanguineum varieties make great ground cover for smaller spaces. Geranium sanguineum bloody cranesbill has dark green feathery foliage and vivid magenta flowers from March until June while the similar ‘Tiny Monster’ has a mass of larger shocking pink flowers until late autumn. Softer sanguinium ‘Album’ with small pure white flowers May to June but the beautiful pale pink flowers of sanguineum var. striatum will keep going until August.
The bigger and bolder Geranium psilostemon with its vibrant magenta flowers and purple black eyes is stunning, but needs space (about a square meter). It flowers from June to August and the leaves turn fiery red in Autumn. The hybrid, ‘Patricia’ has the same dark eye but is a brighter pink and slightly more compact (60cm high) and longer flowering. The rangier Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ has bright green early foliage and rich magenta flowers with a dark eye, again it needs space scrambling to a meter and flowers until September.