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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Three days – three new hardy geraniums: 1 - ‘Laura’

Posted by Graham Rice on 01 May 2008 at 05:00 AM

The RHS Plant Finder is a wonderful thing (as we all know) – but it’s not perfect. For one of the best new hardy geraniums of this season is not included – it came on sale just too late to meet the deadline. But it’s a great plant with a great story and it’s now available.

Geranium pratense ‘Laura’ was a star of the recent hardy geranium trial at Wisley. But, strangely, it was not such a star that my fellow judges and I gave it an Award of Garden Merit. To be honest, I can’t remember why the vote went against me. But here’s the story.

‘Laura’ is a double, white-flowered form of G. pratense which was discovered by Cheshire gardener Christine Morley and named in honour of her mother. This is what she told me: “Over twenty years ago I sowed a packet of G. pratense, mixed colours, which I bought from Chiltern Seeds.  I pricked out half a dozen seedlings and the resulting single-flowered plants were deep violet blue, silver blue and white but one plant turned out to have white double flowers. At that time I hadn't realised that G. pratense ‘Plenum Album' is a weak plant seldom grown. My plant was vigorous and flowered every year without any special treatment. I didn't feed it and only rarely lifted and divided it.

“It was many years later that I began to suspect it might be something different when I realised that I had never seen another one like it. In my garden it grows in clay soil in semi-shade and always flowers prolifically from mid June for about four or five weeks. Unlike the single G. pratense it doesn't set any viable seed.”

Geranium pratense ‘Laura’ is now available from Hayloft Plants. Another new hardy geranium tomorrow.


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