HARDY GERANIUMS species and cultivars

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Some  geraniums offered on Ebay are either not true to name, wrongly named, wrong photo or incorrect  as they are seedlings. I have noticed this more frequently recently and decided to write a Guide to help to explain about the plants as I have hundreds of them and many years experience in propagation etc.

I have been growing hardy geraniums for some years now and have a large number of in my garden and also sometimes in pots due to the conditions I live in.

I began like most, with the x magnificum which were about many years ago and we found one in this garden having been there for around 30 years.

Then came the more common and sometimes un-named Sanguineums. I then progressed quite rapidly to finding out more about others including those I now have an NCCPG National Collection for, Geranium phaeum species and cultivars. These plants suit the heavy clay soil with the exception of a very few poor cultivars which I keep for the record but I do not propagate them for sale or encourage people to buy them as they are not really garden worthy and should never in some cases ever become named ones.

That also applies to the x oxonianum where in the case of G. Armitageae many new seedlings appear I destroy those unless they have significant flowers as they rapidly spread and can choke better plants growing near to them or even at a distance as their seeds travel quite a way around especially with our high winds here.

I have seen growing in the wild many geraniums including the Sylvaticum ones in the Alps and also Phaeums. Also of course the Geranium pratense growing in the meadows of the alps. One popular one was found in Switzerland by a colector of garden plants Bill Baker, who sadly died a few years ago and he named it after his wife Joan.

Others were introduced by many other plantsman including the late Trevor Bath who died recently, he was well known for his Lily Lovell and Rose Madder both in the phaeum group of cultivars. Just recently Ive been trialling a seedling of the latter given to me by a well known geranium grower and shall be introducing it to cultivation shortly  under the name suggested by Trevor's partner.

The main concern with geraniums is that they must never be called the given name if they are seedlings of a plant it must be divided to be able to be named that. If a chance seedling is a good one then it viable and trialled and tested for about 3 years then it can be registered with another name of the finder's choice.

The other thing to watch out for especially if you buy any is for vine weevil its not he beetles themselves who cause the harm but their grubs who eat the roots of lots of plants not only geraniums, others included astilbes, primulas and many others too in the herbaceous field. There are products sold now for the amateur gardener that will help to eliminate these. I use a commerical product which appears to be safe for animals and wildlife as it only attacks the specific pest and does not go through the food chain of others. this is especially important if you keep plants in pots as they beetles lay their eggs in them and as they are invisible to the naked eye then its not likely you will know about it until you find no roots or no plant emerging in spring!

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