Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’
An Alan Bremner hybrid of the same parentage as the better known ‘Anne Folkard’, namely G.procurrens x G.psilostemon. Geranium ‘Anne Thompson’ is a more compact form. It spreads to 90cm as it meanders its way through the foliage of its neighbours, reaching about 50cm in height. Its young leaves are golden tinged but less brash than those of ‘Anne Folkard’ and is perhaps easier to place in the garden as its tones are subtler. In flower it is nearly identical with relatively large quite flat bright magenta pink, black-eyed flowers with stamens that begin salmon pink. The flowers of ‘Anne Thompson’ are possibly a little more lustrous. Coming as it does from the Orkney Islands it is well versed in Scottish Winters but does need reasonable drainage. It can be grown in sun or partial shade, the golden hue of the leaves becoming more intense in bright conditions.
The genus Geranium is very large, containing at least 420 separate species so it’s no wonder there are so many garden worthy plants to choose from. If we were to generalise, they are on the whole tough, long lived and largely die down to the ground in winter. They fall largely in the range 20-60cm tall and are generally spreading clump formers producing a mound of basal leaves. However, some species, such as Geranium tuberosum produce a forest of stems with no basal leaves and others such as Geranium ‘Ann Folkard’ produce fewer long trailing stems. They are stalwarts of the summer garden, making low mounds at the front of the border, creating carpeting weed suppressing mats or scrambling up through roses or low shrubs. Their long flowering and subtle colours are valuable in so many ways.
Geraniums are suitable for a wide range of different growing conditions, tolerating all but the wettest of soils. Whilst there are Geraniums that are best suited specifically to sun and shade, most will tolerate sun or part shade. Geranium sylvaticum, Geranium nodosum, Geranium phaeum and Geranium macrorrhizum are particularly suited to growing in shady spots.
There is often confusion about which plants the name Geranium refers to, whether it is the cranesbills (Genus Geranium) or the Geraniums (Genus Pelargonium). The confusion arose in the 18th century when they were first being introduced to this country, when both Genera were included in the Genus Geranium. It was soon realised that they needed splitting and the Genus Pelargonium was created. However, as Pelargoniums were at the time the more popular plant, it is to these that the common name ‘geranium ‘ stuck. The confusion has persisted ever since. The Genus ‘geranium’ is now refered to as ‘the cranesbills’, a reference to the long explosive dispersal mechanism (rostrum) attached to the seeds, or the ‘hardy geraniums’.