Don’t be misled by the fact that there are nine and a half pages of hardy geraniums in the RHS Plant Finder. That may seem a lot, but, as Dutch plant breeder Marco van Hoort has proved with his new Jolly Jewels Series, there’s room for more – if they’re good enough. And these are.
Relatively little development has taken place with the neat and compact, spring flowering ashy cranesbill (Geranium cinereum) in recent years; ‘Ballerina’ (1962) and ‘Laurence Flatman’ (1980), both raised by Alan Bloom, have long been the stars. But this has now been remedied with a series of 11 varieties, from the Netherlands.
Marco van Hoort’s aim was to develop compact new varieties of Geranium cinereum that start flowering early in the season, have a wide range of flower colours, and show disease and rain resistance.
He made his first crosses in 2010, using an unnamed seedling of G. cinereum var. subcaulescens and ‘Laurence Flatman’ and the first selections were made in 2012.
They were tested, assessed, bulked up and the first varieties appeared quietly last year – but this year seven more have been launched, making a total of eleven colours: Coral, Hot Pink, Lilac, Night, Pink, Purple, Raspberry (see photo), Red, Salmon, Silver and Violet*. Development continues.
*Please see our Find a plant listings for full cultivar names, including Trade Designations.
Plants flower from around April to September, most abundantly in early spring and then periodically during the rest of the season. They reach 10-12cm (4-5in) in height and are best in a sunny situation and a moderately fertile, well-drained soil. Plants grow quickly and develop into tight cushions.
Buy Jolly Jewel geraniums direct from RHS Plants.
**Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS.