Greyleaf Crane's-bill

'Lawrence Flatman'
Greyleaf Geranium

"Flies, worms, & flowers exceed me still."

-Isaac Watts,


At the foot of a group of tiger lilies we have a Greyleaf Crane's-bill (Geranium cinereum), helping to shade the lilies' root system, & providing a little groundcover for when the lilies aren't present. The Greyleaf tends to remain quite short, clumping six to ten inches high, sometimes considered "dainty" in appearance, with small scalloped leaves.

It is more restrained & remains more compact & less sprawly than most hardy geranium species, causing some to assess it as less than vigorous; but if that is the case, it must be true only at the extremes of its zone tolerance, as it seems completely undemanding in our garden.

Greyleaf Crane's-billBecause it is relatively small, it became overwhelmed by larger perennials the aggressiveness of which I had misjudged. Thus it had twice to be transplanted in two years, which stressed it considerably. Yet each time it bounced back fine.

It is perhaps best suited for zones 7 & 8, but stretchable to zones 5 through 9. Here on Puget Sound this alpine species approaches being an evergreen & is extremely hardy. It begins flowering in late Spring & continues all summer well into autumn.

'Lawrence Flatman' is an intraspecies hybrid, crossing G. cinereum ssp cinereum with G. cinereum ssp subcaulescens. The flowers on this cultivated variety are a blotchy two-shade of rich lilac-pink, with deep magenta etched lines or veining, & a darker triangular eye.

It was introduced by Blooms of Bressingham in 1979. 'Lawrence Flatman' is more deeply colored than the similar cultivar 'Ballerina,' from which it is descended. It has one of the more dramatic blooms of any crane's-bill.

The species is native of grassy & rocky areas of the western & central Pyranees. The cultivars likes sunny or only partially shaded & dryish locations, or if moist, with very sharply drainage. It dislikes clay but will grow through gravel, & can be very useful for container gardening. Apart from its drainage requirement it is not fussy as to soil condition or pH, being very adaptable.

See also these Greyleaf crane's-bills:
Geranium cinereum 'Purple Pillow'
Geranium cinereum var subcaulescens


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