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Small and perfectly formed

One of the major players in our gardens is the hardy geranium with its gaping, saucer-shaped flowers heavily veined in order to guide the thirsty bee to the vital nectar and pollen. There are varieties galore and it’s quite possible to have hardy geraniums or cranesbills in flower from March until October in shades of pink, white, blue and rich magenta.

Some of the most useful hardy geraniums are diminutive sun lovers bred from alpine species. They fill a space well and produce lots of saucer-shaped flowers that are heavily veined. Most need good drainage to persist. Give them a dry position, but water them well in their first season. Listed under the Cinereum Group, they include ‘Ballerina’ (a purple-pink with dark veins and a smudgy eye) and ‘Thumbling Hearts’ which has red centred pink flowers and masses of veins.

In normal garden situations, that perhaps aren’t so well drained, you could plant ‘Orkney Cherry’ a bronze leaved compact geranium with masses of small bright pink flowers over many months. It’s rather like aubretia in habit and can trail over a wall, or down a slope. If you want something with a showier flower that will also tumble, try ‘Dragon Heart’ because the black eyed magenta-pink flowers are much larger than most geraniums.

In dry positions the British native, Geranium sanguineum, performs well forming a low-growing carpet of heavily divided leaves and wide open deep pink flowers. ‘Elke’ has a pale edge to its pink flowers and there’s a pure white form with pristine all white petals and dark green leaves. The latter will look as cool as a cucumber on a hot summer’s day and it’s accommodating because all forms of Geranium sanguineum flower in semi-shade or sun. Perhaps the prettiest of many is the pale pink, heavily veined variety striatum because the circular flowers just keep on coming.
The bees love them almost as much as the gardener.

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