Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum, hailing from the mountains of southern and central Europe is one of the species Geranium which does well in Sydney gardens. It forms a mounded clump 40-60 cm tall with soft, lobed leaves and grows and blooms well in shade, even dry shade, as well as in sun. The basic species has deep purplish-black flowers, which are quite unusual. The colour of the blooms has given rise to the common name of 'mourning widow'. The flowering season is quite long: it begins to bloom in my garden in September and continues into January.

Geranium phaeum, possibly the cultivar Samobor, with Anthriscus sylvestris Ravenswing

I have used this plant in a border of silver, white and purple-black leaves and flowers, and have it growing nearby Ajuga 'Black Scallop'; it could also look good nearby gold foliage plants or lime-coloured flowers. Some forms have dark markings on the leaves and the cultivar 'Samobor' has leaves splashed with dramatic dark markings. There are also apparently gold-leaved and variegated-leaved cultivars, though I have yet to see them. There are also cultivars with white or slate-blue to lilac flowers. It self-seeds at times, but doesn't become a nuisance. You can cut the plant back to the ground after flowering and it will produce a neat mound of new leaves and sometimes a second flush of blooms. The plant can be propagated by division or by potting up self-seedlings.

Flowers in January, September, October, November, December.

 Out now in my Sydney Garden.