In recent years we’ve been blessed with a particularly good Geranium in G. ‘Rozanne’. Despite an interesting start in life (I would tell you but I don’t want to get sued) this Geranium has proven itself year after year in gardens. It’s tough, doesn’t run or seed, and it flowers for so long you start to get bored with it!
This is an undeniably good plant with six or even seven months of interest per year. How then is it even possible to consider other Geraniums?
It depends to a large extent on what you want to do with that particular area of the garden. A Geranium with a shorter flowering season might not appear to have any merit, but if you want to ring the changes in your borders during the year then a plant that flowers for so long might not be quite so useful.
One of my absolute favourite Geraniums is G. sylvaticum ‘Amy Doncaster’. Named for the eminent plantswoman who selected it, this is the bluest of all the G. sylvaticum forms. It’s a gentle plant, with delicate blue flowers held above a polite clump of foliage; used in a little shade this plant is simply sublime. Combine it with woodland perennials that are neither too small or too thuggish for best effect (things like the more gentle ferns, maybe a modest Hosta or two, or one of the more resilient Pulmonarias- you get the idea?).
Until G. ‘Rozanne’ came onto the market the most popular blue Geranium was G. ‘Johnson’s Blue’. With masses of big blue flowers usually from May to August this was the go-to Geranium for a long season until it was superseded. Here’s the thing though, it’s still a mighty fine plant!
G. ‘Johnson’s Blue’ was named after A.T. Johnson, from one of whose seedlings this was named. ‘A.T. Johnson’ was in fact the Welsh garden writer and plantsman Arthur Tysilio Johnson (1873-1956) of Bulkeley Mill, Rowen, Conwy in Wales, since you asked.
Geranium x magnificum doesn’t flower for quite as long as G. ‘Johnson’s Blue’ but is still magnificent. The flowers of G. x magnificum are quite large and beautifully veined, held above its attractive hairy leaves in mid summer. It is fairly vigorous, making it a good companion for Alchemilla mollis.
Although these Geraniums might not flower for as long as G. ‘Rozanne’ they are nonetheless good garden plants. They flower reliably when they’re supposed to, and once they’ve finished flowering they get chopped back and produce a new flush of leaves that stay fresh and tidy for the rest of the year, providing a neutral foil for late season asters, Hesperanthas and other late summer-autumn plants.