I bought these geraniums early last summer for 25p each, wilting and half dead under the neglectful care of a major DIY chainstore. No worries, for as my charming, witty and erudite readers know geraniums or more properly Pelargoniums, are South African natives and can thus withstand a bit of drought and heat.
Pelargonium is a genus of some 200 species. Commonly called geraniums, the true Geranium is a separate genus of related plants often called cranesbills. Cranesbills are thorough repellent plants that make my life a misery with their appearance each spring where I thought I'd finally managed to dig them to destruction the previous autumn. Not so much perennial as ever-bloody-lasting; once one arrives in your garden, it seeds itself wantonly until every part of your garden is infiltrated.
Most of the plants you'll see sold as garden geraniums are in fact pelargoniums, as opposed to true geraniums or cranesbills. No matter, just look at these beauties, and the rejuvenating qualities of great compost, plenty of moisture and an adoring lady gardener.
Pelargonium "Red Star"
Now is the time to sow your Pelargonium seeds, usually 6 seeds in packet for 2.99£. You can of course, wait to pick up the plug plants, also 2.99£ for 6, but sowing your own seeds is so much fun. Ten days ago I sowed Mr Fothergill's Moulin Rouge, the classic signal red geraniums you'll see everywhere in France. Once the risk of frosts has passed, in sunny Derbyshire that usually means mid-May, I'll have them outside in large terracotta pots on the terraces, lining the steps in the kitchen garden and flanking the drive and the outhouses. In late February my thoughts turn towards our house in France, and France, and St Malo, and I'm happy.