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18 messages
17/07/2012 at 13:55

This is a tedious beginner gardener question.  My 'Wargraves Pink' and 'Kashmir Blue' are thriving and have done really well during the rain spells.  But my 'Mrs Kendall Clark' which were bought and planted a month ago only bloomed for 2 weeks then no new flowers and the foliage has orangey brown tints on the edges of the leaves.

I've asked this on another forum thread but thought I'd better get the subject of Geraniums on it's own thread - sorry if there's another Geranium thread which I haven't found.

My problem maybe arises from reading about plants in too many places of reference.  The plant label, websites and various old and new books.  Sometimes they give different advice and I'm in a beginners fudge of trying different types of advice.

My understanding had been that 'Mrs Kendall Clark' would bloom through to the autumn and that you can just leave them to their own thing.  Then I read that you should deadhead them or cut the stems at the base to prompt more growth and blooms.   I have 3 of these plants so deadheaded the flowers on one, cut the stems at the base on the 2nd and left the 3rd one to do its own thing.  None of them have produced new flower stems or blooms and so I'm wondering one of three things:

I added a 'Summer Mulch' to the bed  either a month or two months ago, can't remember which.  If I've carelessly hit the stems with the mulch would this have caused them to stop flowering and the foliage to turn orangey brown?  It's heavy clay but it had a lot of nursery bought garden compost added very early spring and the other Geraniums in this bed are romping on.

Am I mistaken that 'Mrs Kendall Clark' should grow and bloom through to September?  Should they have stopped blooming round about now?

As the plants were bought in pots and already in flower - should I have fed them something specific to keep them going or unlike the other Geraniums do they depend on constant sunshine to keep them going?

In most gardens where I see Geraniums they are blooming like mad and seem to just get left to get on with it.  I feel I've messed up in some obvious way but am just not 'getting it'.  I never hear anyone say they have problems with Geraniums and had thought I'd be able to just leave them more or less to spread and bloom all summer to autumn.  Oops!

 

17/07/2012 at 14:03

 

 

 

17/07/2012 at 14:05

Think my first post here was a waste of time as I've just found info on the RHS site which says the foliage turns 'orange' in the autumn and to cut the entire stems.  But, as said above - there was contradictory advice in some other places.  Maybe my 'Mrs Kendall Clarks' think it's autumn!

17/07/2012 at 16:14

i have looked in Stefan Buczacki best geraniums and according to him Geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendal Clark' has a short flowering period but is very hardy

17/07/2012 at 23:29

little-ann - thanks.  Yes, I've caught up with some reading.  Short flowering period.  I'll have to transplant them to somewhere where there's plenty longer-term blooms around them so there's something to make up for when they stop blooming.  They are just sad looking stems at the moment in a little space of their own.

18/07/2012 at 07:47
Mrs Kendall Clarke is a cultivar of geranium pratense, which, as you now know, has a short, early flowering season. I've got a few pratenses dotted around, when they've done their bit, I cut them back hard to the ground. New foliage, fresh and green, soon comes along...and occasionally some more blooms.
18/07/2012 at 10:03

Hi figrat:  thanks for that.   They're having the ground cut today - continuous torrential rain - good day for it!  

18/07/2012 at 10:19

The trouble with all the books we read, both old and new, is that the plants have read none of them, and will do exactly as they please when they please, and whenever they please.  Most hardy geraniums benefit from a haircut in autumn, I've also known people to do it now to get young growth before the winter, looks good throughout then unless it gets frozen.  in the end, provided you have not maybe overdone the nurturing and so on, it will just get on with it.  i have many of these all over the garden, they are wonderful plants.  Sometimes, as with many things, less is more, maybe leave it alone for a while? I believe it's only been in place 2 months? It hasn't had any chance to grow good roots to keep it well settled, it will, just give it time. 

18/07/2012 at 12:58

Spare a thought for us older gardeners Yarrow, we knew all the old common names then they decided to reclassify plants under their Latin names so we learnt all the Latin names and I thanked my school Latin classes for that.
Then those who decide such things reclassified them all again because seemingly a lot of plants of the same genus had been wrongly classified? says who?
So African Marigold became Tagetes erecta, Bellflower Campanula, California Poppy Romneya and Lambs Tongue Stachys Byzantina to name but a few. I can understand new gardeners reading several books being well and truly flummoxed.
Do not worry too much because plants can look after themselves as I found out after six weeks in California, apart from a good weeding some dead heading everything was fine.

Frank.

19/07/2012 at 02:00

Bookertoo:  no nurturing.  Planted, watered and left to it.  I love these plants too - their naturalness is the attraction for me and the ideal is to leave them to their own thing and just observe and learn over a few seasons.  My beginner flux kicks in all too often though as having only had the opportunity to have this garden since 2010, having had to completely dig it over in entirety and start from scratch with no gardening experience - I get those little moments of ridiculous panic and lack of confidence if I think I've caused damage or shortened the life of a growing living thing through stupidity, lack of common sense or knowledge.  That's why I'm on here so often asking so many irritating questions.  I'm not 'garden-proud' in that all must be successful, tidy and beautiful - I'm just too soft-hearted maybe about wanting to nurture every single plant and not 'do them in' by mistake so to speak.

Frank:  I'm - mm - young to gardening - but not so young myself - and heartily wish I had devoted time to gaining familiarity with Latin - and not just for plant identification purposes.   I've only started and had a garden since hitting mid-century and have to tell you that my first points of reference are a collection of charity shop bought  books which were published around the 1950's or before e.g. A.J. MacSelf's 'The Gardener's Treasury of Popular Plants and their Cultivation' or some A.G. Hellyer from the same period.  The fascinating thing for me is the huge amount of really good detail on propagating and planting conditions and the knowledge of many of these writers who can describe how a plant will behave throughout not just one entire gardening year but over many years which is really useful.  I have to admit also to having a love for the wonderful writing style and presentation of these earlier publications which makes them a joy to have as reading material in general.   If anything, I find some more modern resources less satisfying both from lack of detailed content and particularly sparsity of labelling of plants, contradictory growing and care and blooming season information.  Bearing in mind of course that every garden has it's own micro-climate (as they say nowadays) and that the whole range of gardening 'products' has grown to sometimes adapt to the fact that some aspects of gardening (for many reasons reflecting societal change) are no longer possible to undertake or we have much been encouraged into the 'quick fix', 'quick results' age of 'the product'.  And there is a great deal of influence overall in society on the dependence on 'experts' in everything combined with commercial influences, economic business models and what they refer to in the media as 'the gardening industry'.  Geoff Hamilton referred to this in one of his books published many years ago. 

As a beginner gardener - and reflecting on how as a child I did not pay enough attention to my parents gardening activities - a great deal seems to have changed - and the naming and identifying of plants, as you suggest, is not the easiest of notions to get confident with.   Many thanks for your comments Frank.  In life I always bow to what is handed down from the forebears first for the important things and tend to view the shifting sands of much of modernity with a cautious eye!

And I am making a vow not to write any more lengthy posts in future.

19/07/2012 at 13:22

Yarrow, join the clan for long posts, I have had the odd complaint, in this modern world of instant communication it all has to be reduced to one line of text speak, well that is not me. Having been in charge of people most of my life plain speaking with full instructions on how when and where was the only way to get the job done properly.
The old books are the best, they were written by real gardeners with years of experience, I have shelves of them well thumbed and a bit tatty now although I still enjoy reading them. I do have modern books some all gloss and fluff with nothing for an older gardener with experience. The best one has all the old common names with what to look for now and it works a treat.
The instant gardener, a modern trend does not know what they miss, growing your own experimenting trying new things, working out where they will be happy, moving them about in my case some several times, a Geum that has travelled round the garden is now quite happy has flowered for months and I cut the last seed heads off this week.
Watching people buy in the Garden centres I often want to say that will be gone over in a week, or that needs shade, sun, semi shade to be any good, I keep my mouth shut unless asked and it surprises me how many people do ask, they get a mini lecture. My local nursery are very good they do tell people where a plant will be happy and how to care for it, the result is they get good custom.
My Fathers garden was the larder for the year round feeding of us and extended family back in my misspent youth and I had to earn my pocket money, you learn from an expert, "if you cannot eat it or sell it, there is no room for it" I can still taste those Victoria plums and William Pears sun warmed from the tree.
Better end nostalgia creeping in

Frank.

20/07/2012 at 20:06

Frank: Really enjoyed your reply above.  

My dad grew the veg and the interesting thing about nostalgia in my case is that I don't remember him every seeming worried about anything going wrong in the garden.  I don't recall him fussing about manures, composts, feed - he just always seemed to plant, grow and harvest every year and everything seemed to come good.  His time in the garden was after work or at weekends if not working and the veg just seemed to grow and provide.  I don't remember him using fertilisers at all but was a very thorough digger and when it rained he just used to say 'well it's a good drink for the garden'.   He favoured the same flowers every year and grew wonderful dahlias and chrysanthemums which always seemed to grow strong with little trouble.  As you remember the plums and pears - I remember the tastiest potatoes, cabbage and carrots and particularly sitting out with him eating raw peas which always seemed to be enormous.  Roses always seemed to be perfumed, the grass grew with no trouble every year and we loved the daises and buttercups.  Birds everywhere.  Or so it all seemed and it's wonderful to keep it with me in my memories.

 

 

21/07/2012 at 21:19
I grow several of the newer varieties of geraniums, chosen for their long flowering. However, I cut them hard back at this time, water and lightly feed them, and await new fresh growth and a re-commencement of further flowering that continues until autumn
22/07/2012 at 01:02

Hi Christopher2.  Thanks for the comment.  I've chopped back the 'Mrs Kendall Clark' and was wondering about the 'Wargraves Pink' and 'Kashmirs'.  They're beginning to flop with less flowers and look wildly untidy - not that tidyness matters much to me.  Was interesting to see Carol Klein's spot on last night's programme was on geraniums.  As ever not enough time for her to really go round the huge variety at the location.  Was good to see though.

Can I ask what you feed them with - is there anything that best suits them from your experience?

31/07/2012 at 23:36
Kendall Clark isn't long flowering and there are now some superb long flowering varieties. They differ..I grow phaem Margaret Wilson in part shade with good drainage, it has whitish foliage and I planted Heucheras berry smoothly alongside. Elke is lovely pink n white and is in sun and good drainage. I find war grave pink and Russell Pritchard to be good evergreen plants that spread without being invasive and will grow anywhere. What about Ann folkard with yellowish foliage and magenta flowers. And it grows well and flowers for long time in well drained soil. Blue flowering jolly bee, brookside and rozanne flower for ages. I have purple foliage one with blue flowers that I cut back after flowering....2 weeks ago...and it will flower again in 3 weeks or so (can't remember it's name at mo) and Tanya rendell with chocolate foliage and crimson flowers forever. But, I cut back many of my plants in mid summer for renewed flowering later and it works well. Oh, mulching would not have stopped geraniums from flowerisng
31/07/2012 at 23:43
Ps. Yarrow2 I do feed with fish blood n bone, lightly, but not sure it's necessary. Great believer in seaweed spray though. Some nutrients and good tonic.
01/08/2012 at 18:05

christopher2:  Thanks for the very informative response re the feeding and particularly for the description of the various geraniums.  Will look up some of these names and plan for next year.  Really interesting.  You ought to post some photos - would be good to see some of your range of plants.

Many thanks.

01/08/2012 at 18:32
Yarrow2 maybe I will but new to this forum. It's addictive getting involved though in the discussions....learning stuff all the time in gardening. I often think the experts get things wrong...I think we learn as we go, listen to those who have done it, ESP re growing veg etc., and take on board all the views on forums like this. We all garden so differently and that's nice
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