Many of my fellow Buffalo gardeners can barely bring themselves to embrace petunias. As for geraniums (pelargoniums)? They’re pretty much off the table.
However, out here in the wider gardening world, I am sure there are some fellow geranium aficionadas, however closeted they may be.
First, it must be admitted that red geraniums do have cliched associations and maybe should be limited to cemeteries and patriotic displays. But wait! What about the balconies of the Plaza Athenee in Paris, each one overflowing with red geraniums? Yes, I mainly know this because of watching Sex and the City. (Once you’ve admitted to liking geraniums, there can be no shame.)
But maybe that’s the only way those red ones could work – totally over-the-top and completely impossible for the average gardener.
In any case, other than roses, I don’t use a lot of red in my garden. Fortunately, geraniums come in many other colors and many interesting forms.
As someone intrigued by old-fashioned annuals, often for their literary associations, I have been buying the intriguing varieties offered by Select Seeds for some years now. This year, it was ‘Grossersorten’, ‘Velma Cox‘, ‘Dolly Varden’ and ’Lord Bute’.
Velma. That’s an interesting name for a plant.
‘Lord Bute’ didn’t make it; it’s easy to accidentally ignore these little seedlings if you can’t plant them right away, as is usually the case.
These are small mail-order plants though, and they’ll take a few weeks to get going. We are fortunate in Western New York to have several greenhouses offering wide assortments of geranium hybrids. I know that the industry has been very busy perfecting these, but I haven’t kept up with it. All I know is that last year I had a couple of pots that bloomed without ceasing and – equally as important – kept fresh green foliage going through October.
So this year, I doubled down and shopped for hot pink and dusty rose geraniums to use in containers throughout sunny spots. So far, I love them. Many of my perennials have yet to bloom and other annuals are still filling out, but these geraniums pop as soon as they’re planted.
While many cultivars are marketed for their scented leaves, I find that most geraniums – at least the zonal varieties I seem to favor – have a great scent.
As I try to require scent, this is another biggie.
There are good reasons plants become so commonly used.
Photo of Plaza Athenee facade by Joe deSousa, Creative Commons.