If you like your plants in neat clumps and pastel shades then don't plant Geranium psilostemon. On the other hand you might want to live a little.
This hardy perennial from Armenia makes its presence felt. From a mound of lush, deeply cut, broad leaves it throws up 4ft stems in all directions. From early to mid-summer these bear umpteen intense magenta-crimson flowers, each with an arresting black centre. And yet, for all this exuberance, it has elegance and bearing - there is nothing brassy and vulgar about it.
Mention Geraniums and many think of the blowsy plants that fill our window boxes during the summer. Correctly these are Pelargoniums. True Geraniums are herbaceous perennials like this one. There are hundreds, in all shapes, sizes and colours and they make some of the best, most easy-going of garden plants. Try them all.
The sprawling nature of Geranium psilostemon does mean that it needs support. Don't use sticks and bits of string, use another plant.
The handsome Acanthus spinosus, or Bear's breeches, should do the trick. Its sturdy spires of white foxglove-like flowers hooded with mauve bracts grow 4-5ft high and its arching, deeply divided, glossy green leaves reach 3ft long. More than enough framework for the Geranium and an imposing, dramatic plant in its own right.
Its season of interest is long, the seed pods swelling to decorate the brown flower spike in the autumn. Don't be put off by its size. Even the smallest of gardens benefit from such contrasts of scale.
Both the Geranium and the Acanthus will grow in any reasonable soil and in sun or partial shade, though the Acanthus will be shy to flower in the shade. Once established the deep, fleshy roots of the Acanthus will be with you for ever but protect young plants during their first winters.
The final plant is low-growing and evergreen. Bergenia purpurascens has large, leathery, dark green, paddle-shaped leaves that give rise to its common name of Elephant Ears. They provide good contrast to the spiky Acanthus foliage and provide cover during winter.
Elephant Ears are not always easy to love. They can look heavy and plodding. This is one of the best. As winter approaches and temperatures fall its leaves turn beetroot red, and before its neighbours have put on growth in Spring it produces rich red flowers on graceful stems.Reuse content