Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Genteel Geranium

I've heard some awfully disparaging remarks about geraniums, and for the life of me, I just can't understand how such a well-mannered and proper plant could elicit unkind comments. Thanks to their cheery and good-natured blooms, geraniums are guaranteed to bring one out of the doldrums, something else that means this flowering plant deserves a little respect. (I should add that I'm guilty of making disparaging remarks about gladioli, but that's a post for another day.)

While I'm partial to red blooming geraniums, pink, coral, and white are fine by me too. And did I mention how easy they are to care for? They only require some sun, a good watering, and the occasional deadheading. But I'm certainly not the only one who is a fan of the geranium. Take a look at some of the others who admire this most genteel of plants.

Image above: Lady Diana Mosley (née Mitford), had pots of geraniums including this one scattered around her garden at her Paris home, The Temple of Glory at Orsay.

During the annual Festival of the Patios in Cordoba, Spain, townspeople decorate their patios, terraces, and balconies with geraniums and other plants.

Cecil Beaton grew scarlet colored geraniums- and lots of them- at Reddish House.

The very elegant drawing room at Bentley in Sussex, owned by Mary Askew. Note how the red of the geraniums, pillows, and book end tables punctuate the room.

Countess Margaret Willaumez and her dog Moppet enjoyed the geraniums at their home in Capri, Casa Lontana.

Image at top from The Finest Houses Of Paris; Cordoba, Spain photo from House & Garden, November 1971; Beaton photo from Celebrity Homes: Architectural Digest Presents the Private Worlds of Thirty International Personalities; Bentley photo from Country homes (The Worlds of Architectural digest); Willaumez photo from House & Garden, January 1970.


  1. Oh that is so sad. I love the classic geranium. It's a classic, right?

  2. Jennifer I love geraniums and the burst of color they bring. My favorites are the fuchsia and the deep coral varieties.

    2012 Artist Series
    Art by Karena

  3. Remember Art Linklater who had a segment on his show called "Kids Say the Darndest Things"? Well adults say the Darndest things too.
    A man once referred to my mother's Iris plants as "poor man's orchids" and she tore them out. I love Irises and grow lots of them.
    Chrysanthemums are also pooh-poohed by plant snobs. They come in tons of varieties, colors and sizes. They can cascade over window boxes (they use them this way all over Paris in the Fall and look spectacular) and can be trained into Standards (trees). Because all we see at the garden centers are the so called "cushion mums'" by the thousands, they are thought to be common. They're one of the easiest plants to grow from cuttings and add tons of color in the Fall garden.
    Beware of the folly of the plant snob. If you like a plant, grow it. If it brings you joy, grow it. You are the master of your own universe and the plant snob can go back to their garden and plant whatever they want too.

  4. Nice to know that others consider the geranium to be a classic! I agree that we should plant what we love, and decorate with what we love too! People say horrible things about carnations, but I absolutely love them!

  5. My grandmother grows the most glorious red geraniums, now I am also a big fan of geraniums in any color.

  6. Anonymous11:00 AM

    I love geraniums. I'm not a fan of red flowers, but I love the pink and coral. Ever since I started filling my window boxes with geraniums, and seeing how fabulous they are and how easy to care for (is that the real reason they're looked down upon?), they're my choice of bloom now every year. I'm partial to the coral or pale pink.

  7. Geraniums remind me of the years I spent in Spain--geranium everywhere; France, also. Great hardy plants that kids and cats and dogs cannot destroy and they suffer bits of drought and neglect without even a whimper. Mary

  8. This year, all the pink cascading geraniums were sold out, we have opted for white ones. We line them up on the XVIth century fortification wall in large medicis vases, leading up to our family chapel.

  9. I am right with paintbrush. Grow what makes you happy. I love white geraniums because they look lovely at twilight. I am also with POC about decorating to your heart's content. Which, by the way, I am following my own advice and painting the ceiling of my new kitchen/library one big room space a color called Minted Fern. In daylight it joins the garden views and I hope will feel like I am cooking in a tree house. At night down by the fireplace, the space looks like a snuggy hug of a space. Works for me!

    ps I forgot to say a word for the lowly carnation: affordable, sturdy, fragrant, long-lasting. What did the carnation ever do to invoke such wrath?

  10. As with so many other plant varieties, there are geraniums and geraniums. Bright scarlet or lipstick geraniums in a hanging basket would look, frankly, ghastly (!). But subtly coloured scented geraniums could be lovely, in a faded pink, or an off-white. I like the lemon-scented varieties- you get that lovely scent when you brush against the leaves. They should also grow very well in towns, so will cope with all the pollution from car exhausts....

  11. Anonymous9:53 AM

    From Mattie at Cafe Lapin

    “Well, I love geraniums, and anybody who does not love geraniums must obviously be a depraved and loathsome person.”
    ― Beverley Nichols, Merry Hall

    1. Hi Mattie! What a wonderful remark, and one with which I agree! Hope you're doing well!