December 6, 2008

Perennial Edger: Hardy Geranium

There are a few places in my garden where I use a row of perennials as edging plants. One short section of path is edged by hardy geranium 'Brookside' that I planted in 2007. This geranium, or cranesbill, has deep blue flowers that blend with the blooms of platycodon planted among a few Encore® Azaleas.

The 'Brookside' geranium foliage continues to form a nice mound, although the leaves are now a burnished red from the cold temperatures. I've not yet cut my geraniums back since I'm still enjoying the foliage.

Rated for zones 5-8, the 'Brookside' forms a mound that is about 18" high and wide. The flowering begins in spring. This geranium should bloom again in the summer, especially if cut back. I didn't cut mine back and it didn't bloom again beyond spring. However, there may be more to this story.

In the spring of this year, I planted geranium 'Rozanne' PP#12175 under the willow tree outside the fence where the deer roam. Geranium 'Rozanne' bloomed all summer until late August. The blooms are a pretty, deep violet-blue. Geranium 'Rozanne' is also rated for USDA zones 5-8 with full sun to part sun in normal, slightly moist soils.

Seeing fawn hoof prints around the geraniums, I assumed that the deer had eaten the blooms in late summer.

In September, I moved the 'Rozanne' geraniums inside the fence. At the time of the transplanting, the plants had a few blooms and a bit of foliage.

The deer no longer have access to the geraniums. But, there are no blooms and no foliage. It seems that the rabbits, not the deer, are guilty of eating the geraniums. I'm certain that the damage wasn't caused by my cement bunny!

This may explain why the 'Brookside' didn't bloom again after the first spring bloom. The rabbits can fit underneath the cottage garden fence where they probably ate the 'Brookside' blooms and now, the 'Rozanne' blooms, along with the young foliage.

I'm not ready to give up on these great geraniums! I have high hopes for 'Rozanne' to edge a few of the Knock Out® Roses in the cottage garden. I also want to continue enjoying the 'Brookside' geraniums. Since these perennials can take the cutting back, I'm not concerned that the occasional munching destroys the plants. However, I want the plants to flourish and bloom!

There are no deer repellants outside the fence since I have been successful with deer resistant perennials. I may have to take extra measures for the rabbit browsing. If the rabbits continue to attack the geraniums next spring, I will resort to using a natural rabbit repellant.

Photos and story by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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