Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Geraniums Turn Over a New Leaf

by Leonard Perry

Two hot trends in perennial flowers are true geraniums (not to be confused with the garden geranium, Pelargonium) and plants with leaves that are any color but standard green. Two new geraniums, both coincidentally with Ann in the name, fit these trends. 'Ann Folkard', with chartreuse leaves, is becoming more commonly available. Brand-new 'Elizabeth Ann' features rich dark olive and brown leaves with golden yellow veins.

Species geraniums prefer moist but not wet soils. Full sun produces best growth and flowers in most areas, although afternoon shade in hot areas of the South and West (zones 7 through 9) is best. These geraniums look best mass-planted in front of or tucked between taller plants.

'Ann Folkard' is a natural hybrid between G. psilostemon and G. procurrens. It features striking rich magenta flowers with black centers from the former parent and the trailing habit (1 to 3 feet) on the ground or through shrubs from the latter. It looks particularly attractive planted near blue fescue or blue oat grass or with purple-leaved bugbane (Cimicifuga). Reliably hardy in zones 5 through 7 and along the West Coast from northern California to Seattle, this plant was originally found in 1973 in Lincolnshire, England, and named after the discoverer's daughter.

'Elizabeth Ann' is a natural selection of G. maculatum, native to the eastern United States. Forming a clump 18 inches high and equally wide, it has lavender-pink flowers in early summer, which are particularly striking against the dark leaves with yellow veins. Like all G. maculatum, it should be hardy to at least zones 5 through 7, and along the West Coast. It was found in 1994 by Leslie Grayson, a grower in Baltimore, and named after his niece.

Both selections are available mail-order catalogs.

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