The geum

by James Alexander-Sinclair

If my calculations are right then this is the 100th blog that I've written for - a mildly momentous anniversary (thank you, by the way, for reading).

Geum 'Prinses Juliana'If my calculations are right this is the 100th blog that I've written for - a mildly momentous anniversary (thank you, by the way, for reading). I've been trying to think of an appropriately significant subject about which to write. A brief history of modernist design? An investigation of the idiosyncrasies of the Linnean system? A illustrated discussion of the baroque? The propagation of rare orchids? Advanced composting techniques?

Instead, I've decided to ramble about one of my favourite plants, one that is very much in evidence at this time of year (there were lots at the Chelsea Flower Show last week): the comparatively humble geum. Most of the garden varieties can trace their pedigrees back to either the Chilean Geum chiloense, the water avens (G. rivale), which grows wild by streams or the wood avens (G. urbanum), which grows (and this may come as a bit of a shock) in woodland.

I have three particular favourites that, for those of you keen on social pigeonholing, come in different levels of grandness. All of them flower like anything in late May and June, but continue flowering intermittently until September if you deadhead them.

The first is G. 'Mrs Bradshaw'. It is as red as the blood of young pigeons and looks particularly lovely amongst grasses; it is pictured here with Stipa tenuissima. 'Mrs Bradshaw' grows to about 60cm high and wide.

Second is G. 'Lady Stratheden', which is yellow and smiles slightly flirtatiously.

Third (and top) on my list is the magnificent G. 'Prinses Juliana', which I think is the best of all orange flowers. It looks amazing, and,  in most combinations, gives a bit of a lift to paler colours. Here it is with Salvia 'Ostfriesland', Ligusticum lucidum and an osteospermum whose name I have, sadly, forgotten.

Give them a decent fertile soil and they will never disappoint. They should be divided every few years in early spring.

By the way, Future Gardens starts this week. It is the successor to the late, lamented Westonbirt Festival of the Garden that expired in 2004 (coincidentally the year that I had a garden there). The new festival is near St Albans and is on the site that, eventually, will play host to Butterfly World. The festival runs until September and features gardens built by such illustrious names as Andy Sturgeon, Ivan Hicks and many others.

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Gardeners' World Web User 03/06/2009 at 13:02

hello i have carrie bradshaw & lady strathadean in my garden the only trouble is this year the flowers are really drooping and i have had to cane them whcih doesnt look so nice ...i also find aphids like them to !

Gardeners' World Web User 04/06/2009 at 18:20

great.I have been looking for an orange flower to go with my geranium nimbus.I think /hope that Juliana will fit the bill.Now where's my plantfinder?

Gardeners' World Web User 04/06/2009 at 19:04

I have been trying to purchase a Hydrangea Paniculata Pinky Winky. All the web sites I have tried have sold out. Can anyone help?

Gardeners' World Web User 05/06/2009 at 08:48

Angels trumpets (Brugmansia) can anyone say why I cannot get this plant to flower, I feed it well but do not know whether it prefers sun or shade it is kept outside all year but I protect it well in the winter plenty of healthy growth but no flowers.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/06/2009 at 10:06

Betty: Brugmansias are very thirsty and very hungry. Try not to prune them too much as they will only flower after the stem has forked. Grow in sunshine.

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