Geraniums are plants that can transform a garden or patio. And each of the top perennials in this post arose as chance seedlings, rather than through any commercial breeding – discovery was made only through sharp and observant eyes. If those individuals hadn’t spotted them, many gardens including Bressingham would be much poorer. Here is the lowdown, our ‘must read’ review…
First we have Mavis. What do we know about Mavis? Not much, except that her surname was Simpson. As a plant, she arose as a chance seedling in Kew Gardens around 1980 – so 2020 will be her 40th anniversary. To still be recommending a perennial 40 years after it was introduced must mean it has to be a good one…
A perennial that flowers its heart out throughout the summer and into autumn. Small, grey-green leaves form a carpet of foliage, above which a succession of soft pink flowers continue week after week.
Best in a sunny situation with good drainage, and very good in a container or hanging over a wall, as here in the Dell Garden at Bressingham, next to Hakonechloa macra ‘Alboaurea’.
Secondly, we have Rozanne. What do we know about Rozanne? Well, here at the Bressingham Gardens we were lucky enough to get to know the real life Rozanne Waterer and her husband Donald, who lived in Somerset, where ‘Rozanne’ the geranium was ‘born’. Though a chance seedling which arose in their garden in 1990, the Waterers were knowledgeable enough to know this plant was something special. They thought it to be a hybrid between the early blue-flowering Geranium himalayense and the later summer-blooming Geranium x wallichianum ‘Buxton’s Variety’.
The Waterers were a delightful couple and were then both close to 80 years old. They contacted and entrusted Adrian Bloom and Blooms Nurseries to propagate their plant and get it on the garden market. It took a full 10 years from receiving the first plant, to giving trials and building enough stock through tissue culture to then launch ‘Rozanne’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2000. 20 years later around 20 million plants have been sold across the world, and many gardeners have and still enjoy its great flowering performance each year.
Adrian Bloom called Geranium ‘Rozanne’ “the perennial of the Millenium” in 2000, and for sheer garden worthiness, is there any other contender? If you really think so, please send in your suggestions, with reasons, to ‘Perennial of the Millenium’, and send by old methods, in an envelope addressed to Bressingham Gardens Nursery, Low Road, Bressingham, Diss, Norfolk, England IP22 2AA!
Thirdly and lastly, we recommend Geranium ‘Azure Rush’, which has a rather different story … by 2005 many nurseries in other countries had been licensed to propagate, grow and sell Geranium ‘Rozanne’, and this was all handled by Blooms of Bressingham North America under the guidance of Gary Doerr. Donald and Rozanne Waterer had sadly died, but had at least received their first royalty payment and knew their discovery would be a success; payments then passed to their family.
On the Nursery of zu Jeddeloh, near Bad Zwischenahn in northern Germany, a single plant was spotted in a batch of 10,000 plants of ‘Rozanne’ which looked different to the rest. It seemed to be lower growing and a lighter blue; it had arisen as a ‘sport’ during the propagation in the tissue lab. The excitement at finding this was slightly negated by the knowledge that zu Jeddeloh would not be entitled to any royalties. To add insult to injury, it was decided in America to call Rozanne’s daughter or sister ‘Azure Rush’, as opposed perhaps to the either of the zu Jeddeloh ladies’ names, Gertrude or Sabine. To a Californian, rush meant a rush to find gold … not Gold Rush, but Azure Rush?
… Despite this, in our opinion ‘Azure Rush’ is every bit as worthy as ‘Rozanne’ as a garden plant, and can match the latter in flowering period, ease of growing, freedom of flowering and impact. It’s a great plant whatever its name, and once again we have it growing in several different situations in the gardens at Bressingham.
So when you do get to visit the Bressingham Gardens, do seek out these Geraniums. Or if you would quite like to enhance your own garden, patio pot or window box, why not wing an order to us online, so we can send you the above plants – or even something else?