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Praising Geraniums

Sunday, August 28, 2011

 I was pleased to hear from some friends that they grow the vine Pigeonberry Duranta erecta down south, right in the ground. I just love this little flower, and I'm not the only one. Silver-spotted skippers are mad for it, as are hummingbird clearwing moths.

From there, the hummingbird clearwing went right to one of my favorite miniature gerania: Happy Thought Pink. A rather rare little thing, this is one of the "butterfly" geraniums, named for the butterfly-shaped splash of color on each leaf. Oh, I love this little plant. Its color reminds me of Rosepink, the pink gentian I love so dearly.
which brings me to one of my favorite subjects: geraniums. I adore geraniums. They're almost pest-free save for a few winter whiteflies. They're hardy and willing and we understand each other. They like warm days and cool nights, just like me. They're colorful and free-blooming and come in all kinds of tantalizing shapes, sizes and colors. And best of all I can make cuttings and make more of them.  

They're wonderful subjects for large pots (this one's got Contrast and Maverick Red)
and their leaf colors are just as delightful as are their flowers. Needless to say I gravitate toward the fancier ones. This is Contrast, again.

 Here are Occold Shield (top) and Vancouver Centennial (bottom). Both are ancient varieties, dating from pre-Victorian times. Vancouver hardly ever blooms, but when it does it's got a scarlet single flower. I don't think my plants have bloomed for five years, but the leaves are so pretty that's OK.
I dabbled in some true miniatures (stellar gerania, named for their star-shaped leaves) but a rabbit got up on the porch and mowed them down. Here they were before the mowdown:  Ragtime, Petals, Contrast and Bird Dancer. All history now. This is why I must grow all my gerania in hanging baskets and elevated planters. Durn rabbits. They chew them off at the root and leave the pieces lying there. I think they like the spicy crunch.

Oh well. I've got plenty more plants to propagate and love. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Very happy to see lots of volunteer gray birch seedlings in my shade pots underneath the adult trees. I'll need them...birches are so short-lived it seems I'm always planting more. But they're essential for attracting fall warblers. We saw our first migrant Blackburnian warbler the morning of August 26. It's in full swing, folks...hooded warblers, scarlet tanagers, red-eyed vireos, blue-gray gnatcatchers; they're all going through on their way south. Catch the show while you can!

 The pond, burbling away...reminds me, I gotta go clean the filter again...with these gardens, it's ALWAYS SOMETHING!


You've such a beautiful garden, I always enjoy vicariously wandering lazily through it. You can tell it's a good garden when the sphinx moths approve, too.

I like the brightness and hardiness of geraniums, but I have to admit, I've never been able to bring myself to get over their distinctive smell, which I think is awful and not something I'd want to be walking by regularly. A shame, really; as you show, they make great planter subjects.

Oooo, Geraniums! If I could grow them here I would be drawn to grow the geraniums with the different scents. I love that you got the picture of the clearwing moth. Your geraniums are beautiful!

I am going to keep my eyes open for that cultivar of the Duranta erecta. I love that flower. It reminds me of an African Violet I bought once. (Another plant that I cannot grow, for whatever reason.)
Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous August 28, 2011 at 9:16 AM

In the Houston, Tx area (zone 9)Duranta erecta grows into a huge droopy shrub. I was going to grow it in the Hill Country which is zone 8B but found out it needs too much water and the deer eat it.

And we can only grow most geraniums during the fall through spring. They burn up about June 1.

I always wish I could grow tomatoes and lettuce together. But we grow tomatoes in the spring and again in the late summer while lettuce won't sprout until September. We can plant it again in February for a spring harvest.

Hmmm--what do I like best about this post. Chet Baker so stunningly paired with red geranium?
The delicate pink geranium?
The lovely pond view?
I too love geraniums. I have a flower bed full of a once-a-year blooming geranium with tiny pale purply-pink flowers. What might that be? Geranium leaf shape, tiny single blossom flowers, and a wonderful spicy smell to it.

Thanks for your thoughts on our tree loss--I just hate to lose trees. Just thankful that no damage to house accompanied their fall.

I, too, love geraniums. What do you use to rid them of white flies after their winter indoors? White flies love them as well as my Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus.

Posted by Anonymous August 29, 2011 at 9:34 PM

ps...Julie, what is the look that Chet is giving that geranium?
Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous August 30, 2011 at 4:59 PM
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