Great Companion Plants For a Cottage Garden: Geraniums

This post about hardy geraniums, popularly called cranesbills, (not the pelargoniums) is the second in my series on companion plants.

Blue hydrangea with geranium companion plant

Blue hydrangea with a geranium companion

What are companion plants?

Companion plants complement the showy ornamentals society loves – roses, peonies, delphiniums and hollyhocks – filling in the gaps in the flower border and helping it flow. They’re pretty enough on their own terms and happy to mingle in, above or below other plants. Good neighbours, they will not compete too aggressively for food, water or space.

Their presence encourages a healthier ecosystem by attracting beneficial insects which is why companion plants are often recommended for kitchen gardens. To find out more about what makes a plant a good companion, check out the first post in the series, on astrantias.

Pink roses with purple geraniums at a sunny Bodnant Gardens

Roses with geraniums at Bodnant Gardens

Geraniums (Cranesbills)

If you show me a decent sized English garden that doesn’t have a geranium, I’ll show you a garden that is missing a trick. Suppliers variously describe them as forgiving, easy, undemanding, generous and enduring. I don’t have a horse in the race, but I’d agree with them.

Geranium Sue Crug and Stachys byzantina

Geranium ‘Sue Crûg’ and Stachys byzantina

Continue reading

Square In September: Last Hurrah

Rose with rounded shape and droplets of rain

Rosa ‘Olivia Austin’

This is my last week to share square pictures of pink roses and, to celebrate, this week’s roses come with extras for those who were part of the challenge, or kindly indulged my weakness, even though they are not quite as keen on roses. First, a pink rose named for a lovely lady. It ticks the strongly fragrant box and though I don’t know this variety quite as well as some of the others, with further acquaintance, I suspect it would be one of my favourites. Though I can’t claim this is a bud, it is only partly open and will eventually become a rosette.

Flowers in shades of pink with starry shapes

Pink astrantia

This celebration of a flower is for Becky, for hosting the challenge so gracefully, and for all those who took part, many of them sharing a square cropped picture with varying amounts of pink in it for the whole month. Well done! I’ve loved seeing them all appear in The Reader.

Paphiopedilum in shades of white, pink, crimson and cream

Paphiopedilum collection (Venus slipper orchids)

For orchid lovers, here’s a collection of them, In The Pink, and artfully arranged with moss, slate and logs.  Continue reading

Geranium x oxonianum

Pale pink geranium with purple lace pattern

I’m a big fan of hardy geraniums and keep promising myself the luxury of a post to share some of the pictures I have gathered of them. The trouble is, they are so rarely labelled. I think this dainty beauty is G. x oxonianum ‘Lace Time’ (or similar). It’s hard to be certain as there are so many named varieties of these hardy geraniums, and often considerable colour variation even within the same clump, as you see.

Setting the difficulties of identification aside, I like the contrast between the flowers in this little cluster. The one on the right looks particularly radiant.  Continue reading

Pelargonium L’élégante | Ivy leaf geranium

Ivy leaved pelargonium

This blushing geranium, technically, a pelargonium, has the good fortune to live in a traditional terracotta pot on a narrow ledge in a greenhouse at Stourhead, with several unusual varieties. I suppose that lends it some aristocratic credentials, although the aptly named P. L’élégante would be graceful even if a cutting somehow found itself transferred to the sunny windowsill of a greasy spoon caff. (Please don’t look like that – I’m not one of those who smuggle the odd plant cutting, though I cannot vouch the same for all people of my acquaintance).

When the pelargonium and I were formally introduced (this was at Stourhead, remember), its pretty white flowers seemed almost inconsequential compared to the foliage: tumbling, ivy shaped leaves with creamy margins, suffused pink.

Continue reading