GERANIUM pratense 'Johnson's Blue'

I will fully admit that I am not a huge fan of herbaceous boarders, and therefore it leads on that I am not particularly keen on herbaceous plants in general. But why? Well, I am not keen on small flowers, plants that require more than their fair share of maintenance, and anything that looks as though it belongs in a cottage garden. For me, a cottage garden means untidiness!

Of course, as with any rule there are some exceptions, and while Geranium pratense 'Johnson's Blue' isn't one of them, I just can't help but admire how good it is as an ornamental plant. As an extra benefit, the bees love them.

Commonly known as the meadow crane's bill, this geranium species is an English native so already it is off to a good start! It has a spreading habit and reaches a height of between 18 - 30 inches.

Hardy as old boots, Johnson's Blue has dark green, long stalked leaves which are five to seven-lobed and deeply divided. The violet-blue flowers are almost 2 inches across and explode into colour from June onwards.

For best results, plant Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' between September and March into any well-drained soil. They prefer sun or partial shade and while they are drought tolerant they will perform far better if you do occasionally water them.

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' was awarded the Royal Horticultural Societies Award of Garden Merit in 1993 but this award has now been put forward for rescindment. Why? In all likelihood because of the similar, but even better performing - but less well known Geranium ‘Orion’

Geranium ‘Orion’

Geranium pratense 'Orion' - care of
Accepted as one of the finest of recent hardy geraniums, ‘Orion’ could be said to be like good old ‘Johnson’s Blue’ – only far far better.

Spreading to make excellent ground cover, large lavender-tinted blue flowers have purple veins and open in huge quantities all summer. The broad petals overlap to create bowl-shaped flowers and the white centres accentuate the colouring.

This impressive cultivar was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 2004.

Growing tips

Cut back the old flowering stems almost to ground level as this will help to encourage new, compact growth and a second flush of flowers.

Propagating  Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is easy. Just divide the plants between September and March, then plant directly into their final position.

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