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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

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Geranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel'

Posted by Graham Rice on 30 Jul 2009 at 03:40 PM

This lovely new hardy geranium has delightful flowers - and an interesting history.

Geranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel' - New in 2009. Image: ©De VroomenGeranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel’ has the usual dark green mound of spring foliage, with maroon-purple blotches, but it’s the flowers which are special. Each flower is pale lavender, with violet veins radiating from a green eye, then the edge of each petal features a dark, picotee rim. The result is a delicate patterning of colour, with misty shadows where the petals overlap. The individual flowers are rumoured to be up to 5cm/2in across (I’ve not yet seen a live plant but this seems highly overoptimistic) but it’s their pretty colouring and patterning with marks them out.

‘Lavender Pinwheel’ has an interesting story. It was bred by an amateur gardener living in the province of Drenthe in the north east of The Netherlands. He wasn’t particularly knowledgeable, just dabbling with breeding hardy geraniums as a hobby after he retired.

Five or six years ago, some buyers from the Dutch growers De Vroomen (no retail sales - they supply plants to many retail nurseries) were visiting the area. They noticed an old aircraft rusting away in a private garden they visited and asked about it. It turned out that the plane had crashed during World War Two and the home owner had asked to keep it. As the conversation turned to why the De Vroomen people were in the area, the plane owner's enthusiasm for hardy geraniums came to light. This variety was spotted in his collection, and he gave permission for it to be assessed at the De Vroomen test garden.

There it languished, overlooked, until a garden writer happened to spot it and enthused about it. The plant was then propagated, named ‘Lavender Pinwheel' and is now available. Sadly, its raiser who'd acquired that old plane so long ago has now passed away.

Geranium phaeum ‘Lavender Pinwheel' is available from Dobies, Hillview Hardy Plants, Suttons and Test Valley Nursery.



Digger said:

What a fantastic story behind the plant! a complete chance discovery

on 01 Aug 2009 at 10:15 AM

Graham Rice said:

Yes, I love plants with a good story.

on 01 Aug 2009 at 04:06 PM