Posted on 11.08.2022 |
Added in Sheila May's Blog
Variations in my self sown Hardy Geraniums
A few months back I had a comment on one of my articles regarding a photo of a self-sown hardy geranium that I had identified as a Geranium versicolor and the commenter suggested looked more like a Geranium x oxonianum hybrid. My response to him was that on reflection as this was a self-sown clump of geraniums it could well be a hybrid with more of an endressii vigour than a versicolor form. Whilst over the years here I have idly thought that one clump of supposed Geranium endressii had more prominent veining in its pink flowers than another, I hadn't really been more systematic in my examination of the various clumps of plants than that. Last year and this I have tried to be more observant, and this article attempts to show the variation in flower colour/veining of certain of the supposed Geranium endressii clumps here.
I had hardy geraniums in my tiny London garden, some from my Mum's garden eg Geranium x johnsonii ‘Johnson's Blue' shown below:-
Others I had bought from yellow book gardens eg what I bought as Geranium cinereum ‘Ballerina', and which only last year I discovered was really Geranium versicolor; as well as Geranium endressi; e Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark' blue form; and a salmon pink geranium – Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink' – hopefully you can see the salmon colour here below:-
I also had Geranium oxonianum f. thurstonianum; Geranium ‘Ann Folkard'; Geranium Psilostemon; and Geranium ‘Patricia' from my sister who when I told her how much I liked Geranium Psilostomen gave me a clump of ‘Patricia' from her garden as a “shorter, better garden plant which held its flowers above its leaves”. When we moved here in 2004 I dug up a clump of each of these from the garden in London and brought them down here and heeled them into the garden. The Geranium x oxonianum f. thurstonianum split into about ten small plants which I spread out near the house, whilst most of the others went in as a single clump round the garden.
Over the years the G. Psilostemon and G. ‘Patricia' have grown very slowly larger and become TWO clumps in each case. Here's a close up of ‘Patricia' on 4 July this year:-
The Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink' (which is a salmon pink I find very challenging to match with other plants for some reason) has stayed as one clump under a rose bush in the shade of a pear tree; and the Geranium pratense ‘Mrs Kendall Clark' blue form has remained one weedy clump in part of the gravel garden. The G. ‘Anne Folkard' eventually gave up the ghost in a hospital bed. G. ‘Johnson's Blue' has been divided and spread round the rose garden under many different rose bushes, as has the Geranium x oxonianum f. thurstonianum, the latter also colonising a square metre or so of the hospital bed in the veg garden too – see below, also taken on 4 July.
What I bought as Geranium Cinereum ‘Ballerina', and now think is Geranium versicolor, has spread to several clumps in the gravel garden area and side borders, and as you would expect, G. endressii has been very happy here seeding itself around the gravel as well as bulking up its clumps.
Whilst I do have other hardy geraniums as well, I feel that they do not seem to seed themselves around. If you had asked me I would have said only the G. endressii did, but looking at the flower variations I am inclined to think that some of these new plants are hybrids or crosses between G. endressii and G. Versicolor. See what you think.
To try and keep the light/weather/photo conditions consistent so you can see the colour variations all these photos were taken on 4 July 2022. Here to begin with are what are think are original clumps of first Endressii, and then Versicolor:-
Here are some other clumps that have variations on the above:-
The photo above shows G.psilostemon with the very veined lighter flowered Geranium, and the one below with Geranium x oxonianum f. thurstonianum:-
Two more different self-sown clumps are:-
Small and much more pink, (excuse the blurry photo, fingers to give scale). This might be a cross between endressii and Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen's Variety', as the flower looks a bit like that of Geranium macrorrhizum . I have a large clump of Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen's Variety' the same distance in the other direction of this plant as the G. endressii is…though, as we know Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen's Variety' flowers much earlier in the year than July.
Another slightly smaller than endressii size flowers, with different leaf shape is the below mauve plant:-
In case any of the Hardy Geranium group are reading, other geraniums that I have in the garden that could also be adding their cross breeding genes into the seeds of these self-seeders are Herb Robert (!) – Geranium robertianum or Herb Bob as my husband calls it, one of the few “weeds” he can recognise (along with dandelions, bindweed and brambles); Geranium sanguineum; Geranium subcaulescens; Geranium molle both blue and white forms.
The fact I have so many self-seeded geraniums shows you that I am not ruthless enough to cut them back when the flowering wanes – a version of the Hampton Hack – ie I don't cut the geraniums down to the ground once the first flush of flowers are over quick enough to stop seeds being formed. This is because, as you can see from the above photos, the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower festival in early July rarely coincides with when my Geraniums have stopped flowering! Indeed the Geranium x oxonianum f. thurstonianum flowers almost continuously all summer so never gets cut down til the spring. Though if I TRY to collect seed from the geraniums I am always too late – the crane's bill has split open and the seed scattered before I get to it. The following two photos show seed heads in the green, and then black just before “popping”.
I used to think the “beak” was where the seed was, but in fact the seeds are round the base of the beak, and once it is black the seeds are very close to bursting out. The “beak” splits into four, with each strand holding one of the seeds and flinging it out as it curls back. Let me try and show you closer up with an arrow pointing to the ripe seed about to burst:-
All these variations are caused by bees transferring pollen from one clump in flower to another as they busily work round my garden.
Whilst on the subject of variation in plants that spread themselves by seed in the garden, next month I shall show you the variations I have noticed in the patch of Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) that have spread in my chalk hillside grass.