If you tell grown-ups, "I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows & doves on the roof," they won't be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them "I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs." Then they exclaim, "What a pretty house!"

-from "The Little Prince"
by Antoine de Saint-Exupery


GeraniumGeranium pratense x clarkei 'Brookside' is a recent crane's-bill cultivar from England. It likes full sun or part shade, moist well-draining average soil, & is hardy to minus 30 degrees F., suited to zones 4 through 9.

It begins flowering well before the end of May & throughout June & often persists right into September. The flowers are largish, cup-shaped, clustered, numerous, of a vibrant sapphire-blue, creamy white at the center. It is often said to be a true blue color better than its predecessor 'Johnson's Blue.' It's usually or almost a true blue color, although sometimes closer to a violet-shaded blue with darker faint veins.

It was bred from meadow crane's-bill G. pratense crossed with G. clarkei 'Kashmir Purple.' G. clarkei was formerly regarded a subspecies of G. pratense, but is now given as a closely related but distinct species.

The lacy deeply cut grey-green upright & mounding foliage is fairly heat-resistant & holds its looks in summer. If it does get tattery or worn looking, or if flowering seems to quit at mid-summer, a trimming & deep watering will refresh it & induce reflowering for early autumn.

It has rapid growth but is a slow spreader. It can eventually cover a two-foot stretch of ground very nicely, sufficiently compact to suppress weeds on the garden border. After a few years the clump may seem overlarge, but can be lifted & divided late winter or early spring.

In 2004, after field trials through the Royal Horticultural Society, 'Brookside' had bestowed upon it the Award of Garden Merit. We planted ours where it gets morning sun only & expected it to be less floriferous than it can be, but to our amazement it is extremely flowerful.


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