As their name implies hardy geraniums will survive frosts and severe winters unlike their tender relatives known as pelargoniums, making them ideal for our gardens and containers in a winter that has wrought havoc with more tender plants. As Jaqueline said they are “good doers” that will survive the harshest of winters, though it is advisable to protect them from being covered in snow. They are also very tolerant of soil types able to flourish on both acid and alkaline soils, but prefer a semi-shaded spot making them good planting companions for roses and shrubs that will provide partial shade.
Their colours range from white to dark blue in shades of pink, magenta and mauve, but there are no cream, yellow, orange or purple flowering species. Some have black eyes such as the cultivar “Anne Thomson”which is a rich magenta pink with bushy green/golden foliage. Like many hardy geraniums it has a long flowering season and will flower from June to October. Some will flower as early as April till June such as cultivars of Geranium macrorrhizum, making them suitable companions for spring flowering bulbs
Hardy geraniums are easily propagated from cuttings taken in late winter/early spring as demonstrated by Jacqueline using plant material from her nursery. Cuttings are obtained from splitting mature plants into single stemmed shoots approximately 10cm long from which any dried or lower leaves are removed to leave the growing tip and not more than a couple of immature leaves. Hormone rooting powder is unnecessary and the cuttings should be inserted into compost around the edge of a pot to stimulate root growth. April flowering types are best propagated from cuttings in the autumn.
Jacqueline’s presentation combined a wealth of practical information coupled with some historical details revealing that medicinal properties had been attributed to hardy geraniums though the ages, when they had been used to treat such conditions as gout and lung disorders. Whilst more modern remedies are probably more effective there was no doubting that Jaqueline’s talk proved to be a real tonic combining her infectious enthusiasm for hardy geraniums together with her humorous anecdotes.