Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cranesbill Geranium

Kingdom:     Plantae
Division:       Magnoliophyta
Class:            Magnoliopsida
Order:           Geraniales
Genus:          Geranium
Species:       G. phaeum

Illustration by
Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé  
Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz
1885, Gera, Germany
(copyright expired)

The violet-blue coloured flowers of the cranesbill geranium which thrives amongst the explorers in the University's memorial rose garden suggest G. himalayense but could be the more common Purple Geranium G. magnificum adopting a more blue hue from the soil. Maybe a hybrid cultivar - Jonson's Blue? 
G phaeum has rich wine coloured blooms, and I adore it. I would love to find one for the front garden. I believe there are already some hardy purple/violet/blue cranesbill already in the garden, but we'll have to confirm that after the excavation in the late spring.

The rose garden's cranesbill grows as a neat little mound of foliage to the north east of the bench. When it blooms it compliments in contrast to the roses around it.

  • Cranesbills are also popular among the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Brown-tail and Mouse Moth. There is already a fair selection of food for the butterflies in the garden, but I'd like to improve it.
  • Some species are perennials and generally winter hardy plants;. they are long lived and most have a mounding habit, and some have spreading rhizomes. 
  • Grown in part shade to full sun, in well draining but moisture retentive soils, that are rich in humus.

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