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Geranium wallichianum bed


by John Beaulieu

Last summer I created a hill (really just a small mound) for my collection of Geranium wallichianums which were scattered around the yard in various locations. It was the middle of a hot summer (not the best time for moving plants) but they all seemed to survive just fine, with one exception. Some plants I have had for years and others were seedlings from various seed exchanges.

The location had previously been a mound in which I plunged pots of sinningias (gesneriads) for the summer, removing them in the fall for winter storage of the dormant tubers. It was getting over-run with grass and weeds and my interests were changing from the non-hardy gesneriads (a 35 year interest) to hardy geraniums. I dug up the sod and covered the mound with a lot of newspaper to smother the grass and weeds. This was covered with some wood chip mulch and then a final topping of a grey construction gravel. I used some of our underlying sand to edge the mound and make weeding easy.

I eventually found some matching rocks to add, helping the mound have a more natural scree appearance. The gravel allows moisture to get right down to the top-soil below, preventing erosion and controlling weed growth.

The plants all seemed to like the move, and are doing really well this year. As I write this in mid-August most are in peak bloom.

One of the first to bloom this summer was ‘Jolly Bee’. It seems to me that ‘Jolly Bee’ is different from ‘Rozanne’, even though the powers to be declare that they are the same plant. To the eye, the blooms look the same, but my camera always sees them different… With Rozanne always looking more blue in the photo than ‘Jolly Bee’. You can see this in the shot of several blooms further on in the blog. For me, Rozanne starts blooming later. Of course there is always the chance with any geranium here in Canada, that we may not have the true form.

‘Azzurro’ is one that it took years to find, as many plants sold as ‘Azzurro’ here in Canada were really the unrelated ‘Orion’! The official photos of ‘Azzurro’ seem to show a blue flower, close to the look of Rozanne. My plants are pink, but that could be a result of the soil pH. Some wallichianums are more sensitive than others to soil makeup and this can effect the flower colour. I guess this is similar to the colour of hydrangea flowers? Anyway, I’d love to hear how other folk’s ‘Azzurro’ flowers appear.

‘Blue Sunrise’ (only half wallichianum) loved the relocation and has bloomed non-stop all summer!

I have three different forms of wild collected wallichianums by Chris Chadwell.

A few taller plants such as Crocosmea ‘Lucifer’ are growing at the back of the mound.

Many garden centres in Ontario are carrying fewer geraniums… They say that they do not look good in pots over the season. Some get to tall in their pots and others scramble into other pots. Well, if this is true, ‘Azure Rush’ is a good example of one spreading and tangling with it’s neighbours! ‘Azure Rush’ was my only winter loss on the ‘Wally hill’ (longest coldest winter in 30 years), but I bought another this year to give it a second chance. I had a heck of a time lifting just one from the tangle at the garden centre. For the second year they are one of the most popular geraniums right after Rozanne, which is funny as they really appear as a paler form of Rozanne.

I’ve never tried wallichianum cuttings, but since I had so many long stems on that ‘Azure Rush’ I decided to try some cuttings. If they work, I’ll have backup in case I lose the plant again. Time will tell.

UPDATE – A YEAR LATER… Well, time did tell, and it told me that I was not successful with rooting the cuttings. Perhaps I’ll try again, but really, I get so many seedlings that I really don’t need to do cuttings to increase plants.

This photo added to blog July, 2015. We are having a warm summer with plenty of rain, so the various geraniums are doing quite well. Almost 3 weeks into July and most of the G. wallichianums are starting to flower. I have always noticed that the backs of the flowers are as interesting as the fronts. It was great to see all but one of the plants had survived our coldest winter ever, and I feel that was a weak plant to begin with. I was concerned because the ‘wally hill’ is a mound much like a raised bed, which would allow the cold to get into the ground easier. We had several nights of -35°C, but we also had good snow cover. Anything surviving our last two winters is truly hardy! Right now they are enjoying the other end of the scale, several days at 30°C, feeling more like 40° with the humidity.

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that's an interesting idea - glad it worked out so well. The selection of flower heads is a great reference - added to favourites. I forget what mine are called and staring at the flowers they all look so similar i give up!

13 Aug, 2014


I was in the garden this am. One G. W. 'Buxtons Variety' which I grew from SRGC seed has started to flower. It is very like those Rozanne/ CC6831 shown above. I checked it out in the RHS website and it says it is a sprawling 30cm. high variety. They are all quite difficult to tell apart unless you have mature plants (reached their full size) and you know the descriptions of each. The mound is a great idea for showing the plants off.

22 Sep, 2014


They sure do have a long flowering period. Some geraniums come and go in a matter of weeks, but the wallichianums are still going strong at the end of September. We have had a wonderful week of sunny days and temperatures up to the mid-20s C. No humidity, and cooler nights for sleeping... Comfortable summer has now arrived as official fall (autumn) starts.

28 Sep, 2014

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