Saturday, April 26, 2008

Boring but Important - Geraniums

Geraniums are extremely common and yet so well adapted to hot dry summers they are hard to do without as a pot plant. Of course there are lots of different varieties and colours to choose from - not just Swiss chalet balcony red ones. I like the more purple tones rather than the orangey 'tomato soup' colours. Also there are the scented leaf types which have strong and distinctive perfumes and are supposed to ward off mosquitoes (had no effect on mine though). Some people manage to get their geraniums to over-winter but most of mine perish, even if I put them under cover, so in the end I buy a whole lot of new stock every spring. Which brings me on to a particular beef: why do we have to put up with these horrid plants with tiny roots stuck in a 'tea bag' where they can't grow properly? My attention was drawn to this miserable practice by Joan Marble in her book 'Notes from a Roman balcony'. She had to liberate her poor geraniums from their tea-bag prisons as they were dying before her very eyes. I am pleased to report that there do exist growers who propagate real pants with real roots in real soil, but they are few and far between. My favourite geranium nursery in on the lakeside road near Sant' Arcangelo. Hurry while stocks last!

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