Geranium Argenteum - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Geranium Argenteum Described.
Geranium Argenteum -
Silvery Crane's-bill: Nat. Ord. Geraniaceæ.
A hardy perennial alpine from the South of Europe, introduced in 1699. It
is, therefore, an old plant in this country, and is one of the gems of the rock
garden; very dwarf, but effective, as may be seen by the illustration.
The foliage is of a distinct and somewhat conglomerate character, besides
being of a silvery-grey colour. Well-grown specimens of this charming Crane's-bill
look remarkably well against dark stones. Its flowers are large for so small
a plant, and wherever it finds a suitable home it cannot fail to win admiration.
In borders of rich soil it is grown to the height of about six inches, but in
drier situations, as on the upper parts of rockwork, it is more dwarf.
The flowers are fully an inch in diameter when open, cup-shaped, and striped
in two shades of rose colour; the unopened flowers are bell-shaped and drooping;
they are borne on long naked pedicels, bent and wiry, oftentimes two on a stem;
calyx five-cleft, segments concave; petals five, equal and evenly arranged. The
leaves are produced on long, bent, wiry stalks, the outline is circular, but
they are divided into five or seven lobes, which are sub-divided and irregular,
both in size and arrangement; they have a silky appearance, from being furnished
with numerous fine hairs or down. The plant continues to flower for many weeks,
but, as may be judged, it is, otherwise than when in flower, highly attractive.
To lovers of ornamental bedding this must prove a first-rate plant. As an edging
to beds or borders of choice things it would be pleasingly appropriate, and,
indeed, anywhere amongst other dwarf flowers it could not be other than decorative.
It thrives well in a good depth of loam, its long tap-roots going a long way
down. If, therefore, it is planted on rockwork, suitable provision should be
made for this propensity. The propagation of the plant is not so easy, from the
fact that it makes large crowns without a corresponding set of roots, and its
seed is scarce and often taken by birds before ripened. Moreover, the seedlings
do not always come true; still, it seems the only mode of propagation, unless
the old plants have plenty of time allowed them to spread and make extra roots.
Latterly I have gathered the seeds before the capsules burst—in fact, whilst
green—and, after carrying them in the waistcoat pocket for a few days,
they have been sown in leaf soil and sand, and germinated freely. When the seedlings
have made a few leaves the deteriorated forms may be picked out readily.
Flowering period, May to July.
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