Hardy geraniums: Plant perfection is as close as you can get

CRANESBILL NURSERY makes a highly efficient and informative fist of promoting the hardy geranium.

An attractive, quality catalogue, some friendly, welcoming words inside and a determination to carry on despatching these handbooks by old-fashioned snail-mail rather than yield entirely to online browsing and ordering.

Barely three years ago Gary Carroll took over Cranesbill in Bloxwich, near Walsall.

For the next two years he continued working four days a week in his “day job” as a head gardener for the National Trust.

Now he has immersed himself wholly in developing his private nursery and says of his decision to continue sending out hard copies: “We still consider it worth it as not everyone has the internet and we also think it’s rather nice – and somewhat easier – to leaf through a printed catalogue over a brew.”

Couldn’t agree more, Gary!

As for geraniums, aka cranesbills, there are an impressive 300 species and no end to varieties in a wide-ranging spectrum of colour. Many admirers will argue that they are as close to plant perfection as you can get – they grow practically anywhere, are child’s play to care for and seldom get struck down by ailments or creepy-crawly enemies.

And there’s more to geraniums than Johnson’s Blue and Buxton’s Variety, good as this populist pair are.

A thumb-through the Cranesbill “bible” gives browsers a wonderful insight into the diversity of this genus – species native to lands as far-flung as Montenegro and Albania to India, China, New Zealand and the Pyrenees to the Himalayas and west to California.

They fare, of course, exceedingly well in the dear old UK too!

Take a moment to swoon at Blue Blood in deep sapphire-blue, Crystal Lake in pale blue with purple veins, Hollywood in pale pink with a web of darker veins and vibrant green foliage, Jolly Jewel Salmon in a striking salmon-pink, Laurence Flatman in a gorgeous ruffled rose-pink with rich magenta veining, Nimbus in a stunning mid-blue over finely divided leaves that are golden when new, Red Admiral, a strong grower in deep pink with black veins and eye, Splish Splash with superb, large white flowers and streaks of blue, Southcombe Double with pink double blooms like little fairies’ hats and light green leaves, the pure white St Ola complete with pink stamens and glossy, aromatic foliage and, of course, Rozanne in large, bright purple flowers, white eye and a global box-office hit.

Owner Gary also reminds customers that his 2019 bare-root offer is on until 28 February. Savings per named variety are considerable and postage is free.

These are dormant plants, just like a spring bulb or dahlia tuber, and should be placed directly into the border when the soil is frost-free or grown on in pots for later planting out.

⏩⏩➡»Check out details and discover even more varieties at www.cranesbillnursery.com or phone 01684 770733.

⏩⏩➡» Glorious geraniums: From immediately above and clockwise – St Ola, Splish Splash, Rozanne, Red Admiral, Hollywood, Southcombe Double and the nursery’s 2019 catalogue.

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