Thursday, December 1, 2016

A splash of red


Every bunch of enthusiasts in every field includes quite a few snobs, and gardening is no exception. Snobs, God bless their misguided souls, want to feel that they're a bit better than other people, and so they select something from their favourite pastime to be snobby about. There are wine snobs, music snobs, coffee snobs ... the list is truly endless, but somewhere in that mix you'll find plant snobs, too. 

And the wonderful plant pictured below is one that the gardening snobs will turn up their already upturned noses at, it's a good old geranium (botanically, a Pelargonium), and this very special one goes by the cultivar name of 'Big Red'. It's a miracle worker in my garden.


This is a photo from a few weeks ago. It's almost always like this, but every now and then it takes a breather (and I get in there and cut off all the faded flowers), the red blooms disappear for a couple of weeks, then it's back to full bloom again in no time. It's in flower for most of the year.


Not all geraniums are this wonderful. I have had plenty of them die off in Sydney's humidity over the years, but this Big Red champion just spreads and spreads and flowers and flowers. And it does all this in the one bed in my garden that has never been truly trouble-free or productive. No wonder I am in love with this plant.

Striking cuttings from it is an simple as whipping out the secateurs and whacking the trimmed cuttings into the soil, a pot or a hanging basket. Friends and relatives visiting our place invariably comment on Big Red and tootle home with a handful of cuttings at the end of their visit. Sure enough, six months later they're telling me how incredibly well their Big Red cuttings are going.

And that's what the snobs hate about this gloriously healthy, vigorous plant: it is far too easy to grow. They seem to feel that gardening should be difficult, that it's no achievement to cultivate an easy grower like this. (And I have garden snob friends who feel the same way about murrayas in Sydney ... they're also far too easy to grow, but that's another topic altogether).

So, all I can say to Sydney gardeners in particular, but I suspect many Australian gardeners in general is this: if you have a spot in your garden where nothing has really gone well, try this Big Red person and I sincerely do hope that it might make you happier. Failing that, at least it might make your garden look a whole lot more colourful, for very little effort.