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Sunday, 08 July 2012 11:46

Not my Grandma's geraniums

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This jungle that we’ve bought continues to surprise and delight. And having hardy geraniums all over the property is one of the many perks

Over the past several years, I’ve warmed to these beauties. They are hardy, but like to feign delicacy (much as one of my old pups liked to limp to get attention). I first met them (the geraniums, that is) at our previous house. We had a friend set up a landscape plan for us and he used them to anchor one of the corners in the yard.

When Charlie heard that geraniums were included, he balked. He had pictured those sturdy flowers in garden centers, cemetaries and pots around our grandmothers’ houses. (These traditional plants that many of us call geraniums are actually from the genus Pelargonium and are considered annuals in our northern climate.)

And then we saw these beauties. We put in a cluster and within two years, they were overcrowded. Could we divide them? We didn’t know and decided to take the shovel to them.

One clump stayed in its original location. The other moved four feet away. You would have thought we had set out to torture these plants. They laid their usually perky leaves on the ground in a state of “woe-is-me.” What could be wrong? We had chosen a cool, non-windy day, given them plenty of water and placed mulch all around them.

We went out to survey the damage the next day and found happy plants. The two groupings had perked up and were dancing in the wind. I began to call them my big baby geraniums.

When we discovered a few geranium plants around our new property, we were happy to see our new “big babies.” They have slightly larger leaves than our other plants and are found primarily in our woods. Here we have blue and purple flowers; before we had very light blue flowers.

And with paths now cut through the woods this past winter, we have seen them bursting forward in areas that suddenly have more sunlight.

They propagate by small nodules with runners. I’ve selected some nodules and relocated them. The original leaves dropped after a day or so. Since I was already familiar with their fainting act, I had faith that they would reappear and they did not disappoint.

These “real” geraniums (genus: Geranium) are hardy in our northern climate and they have an elegant toughness to them. I love them despite their desire to feign delicacy when they are either a bit over-crowded or are first dug up and separated. They swoon and wilt only to come back with a robustness that shouts their true heritage.

They can expand beyond your original planned area so keep a close eye. They are easy to pull up and then relocate. They like sun with afternoon shade. If you plant them in total shade, you’ll get leggy plants with very few flowers.

With little care, they’ll give you light dancing blooms through most of the summer, only stopping when the temperatures get above 90.

Read 49711 times Last modified on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 09:03

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