Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Once upon a time I bought a sweet little hardy geranium. A pretty thing in a tiny pot. It did look cute planted in the sunny  border at the front of the house alongside some furry Stachys and under the white Iris which grows so well there. I was a bit worried that it might be overwhelmed by both but no, it's held its own and as you can see the three plants are a pleasant combination in early summer.

I haven't a clue what its name is - the label disappeared long ago*. Unfortunate this, as the same label might have given me a clue about its ultimate size and habit. Three years after planting it I conclude that ruthlessness must be part of its genetic make-up. Titchy it may be but its size belies its audacity and aggressiveness. This geranium takes no prisoners, engulfing all before it. I am thinking it is the botanic equivalent of Hitler or Napoleon.

The pretty froth of delicate purple flowers atop a mound of mid-green leaves gives way to seed heads balanced on lanky straggling stems.  The minute seeds scatter with the slightest movement and wherever they fall they germinate. There are now geraniums spreading far across the garden. It is without doubt a successful plant - except when a plant is where you don't want it to be it becomes a weed.

I summoned up my own ruthless gene. I would hack back, cut down, pull up, cull and otherwise beat it into submission.....but when I looked out of the window Mr and Mrs Bullfinch (rare visitors in these parts) and their 4 newly fledged chicks were feasting on the seeds, hunkered down amongst those same straggly stems having the best picnic of their lives.

Can I take food out of the beaks of baby birds? Can I heck.

*PS If anyone knows its name I'd love to know.


Twiglet said...

I would grow anything if I thought it would tempt bullfinches to my garden - I saw one on next doors fence last week - male - beautiful.

Kirsty.a said...

i have no idea, but my friend Gwen at Perfect Pelagonums will probably know

Frances said...

Mountaineer, not for the first time, let me thank you for this close up view of what it is to live far from my city life.

I also thank you so much for the drawing table info. Think that it's going to take me a while to figure out what I can fit into this apartment that will give me more space to create, without also giving my interior more claustrophobia!


Pondside said...

You'll laugh, but whenever a plant is described as a 'thug' we buy it. Our bit of the rock is not very hospitable to plants and anything that grows here is either coddled by us or very hardy. Words like 'invasive', 'thuggish' or 'wandering' are generally music to my ears.

bayou said...

You make me laugh - and wonder
:-))). You "sold" me some of theses siblings and said it was called geranium Bill Wallis. And I planted those 3 plants in my garden and find it fantastic, as it slowly selfseeds but is never invasive - so far. And the wee flowers look pretty wherever they show up be it amongst penstemon, cosmos, poppies, other geraniums, roses etc etc. I have two "mistake" plants in my garden: yellow lysimachea and vinca major. It has become a pest, it is everywhere and it kills all what is around. Even bindweed. I have declared war to these Hitlers *ggg*.

mountainear said...

Bayou - thank you! How could I forget? Bill Wallis. I wonder does it have a Latin name too. Never satisfied am I?

bayou said...

Its full name is geranium pyrenaicum Bill Wallis and if you want to order it from e.g. hayloft plants, it's quite expensive ;-).
Thank you again for your lovely donation! I got another pyrenaicum from Margery Fish's place, East Lambrock Manor last year and it looks very pretty as well but is still very small and I doubt it will be so proliferating. If you want, I will try to get a child from that one for you.

rachel said...

It's very pretty, anyway. And of bullfinches like it, well, you now have a great excuse for leaving it to annexe the world!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

One calendula's progeny will , in the space of a year smother anything and everything .... in my "garden" , anyway . Perhaps we could all pool our Genghis Khans and take over the world .