Oddly enough, one of the most unpretentious and widespread plants in the nature of the middle zone – geranium – is not so well known to ordinary gardeners. Due to the fact that pelargonium is often called geranium, many are convinced that geraniums do not winter in our country, and that this plant is exclusively indoor. They do not even realize that the familiar “flowers” at the side of the road or on the edge of the forest are the same geranium, and there are few plants that can compete with it in the number of species and variety of garden hybrids, forms and varieties.
Most of the geraniums bred in gardens come from the mountains and forests of Europe and Asia, and there are interspecific hybrids – natural or obtained artificially.
I have known and loved geraniums since I was a child. Every year in late spring and early summer, on the way to the cottage, I admire the purple clouds of Geranium sylvaticum flowers growing on the edge of the forest along the highway. Sometimes there are glades where a smooth purple tone is diluted by plants with petals of all shades from white to crimson-purple.
Then, in the middle of summer – a new lilac-blue wave – blooms G. pratense.
Both of these species have long been weeds in my garden. Only they do not behave exactly as in nature-the species Geranium sylvaticum quickly fades, and Geranium pratense never remains in flower beds so low, neat and compact.
So it would be a poor relative of the wild geranium, timidly peeking into the garden from behind the gate, if it were not for diligent European breeders. Thanks to their care, the geranium not only took its rightful place among the “cultivated” plants, but even received the title of “garden” in everyday life – I think, however, it was not without comparison with the “home” pelargonium.
The first to open the season in my garden are tuberous geraniums-ephemeroids: G. tuberosum and G. malviflorum. Above the delicately carved leaves rise slender stems bearing several flowers with delicate lilac-pink petals and clear veins.
At about the same time, the varieties G. cinereum and G. phaeum begin to bloom.
A little later, they are joined by G. himalayense.
In mid-June, the baton is picked up by G. macrorrhizum, G. dalmaticum…
… G. x cantabrigiense and a very attractive unknown hybrid (I suspect that it was created by nature from Geranium ibericum and Geranium renardii).
Then the varieties G. pratense, G. sanguineum, G. x magnificum, hybrid G. psilostemon ‘Patricia’ and G. wallichianum bloom.
The last two, Geranium cinereum and Geranium sanguineum, bloom all summer and fall-until the snow.
Faded varieties of Geranium phaeum continue to delight the eye with their unusual leaves.
However, many of the geraniums, even the green leaves are very good. In my opinion, only Geranium pratense and Geranium sylvaticum can not boast of continuous decorative Bush.
In autumn, it’s time for new colors: individual leaves of Geranium macrorrhizum and Geranium cantabrigiense flash bright crimson, and the leaves of my favorite unknown hybrid flash bright scarlet. The geranium phaeum ‘Album’ Bush turns very yellow, and the foliage of the ‘Samobor’ variety shimmers with all shades of Burgundy, green and orange.
I am not an overzealous collector, and my small garden lacks many interesting species and varieties of geraniums. But even what it has, it is quite possible to appreciate the amazing variety of species and forms of this magnificent plant and the rich possibilities of its use.