'A. T. Johnson' Crane's-bill
or Hardy Geranium
"Climb up geranium,
it can't be fun subterran-ium."
-Alan Jay Lerner
Geranium oxonianum is not a true "species" but originated as a hybrid of G. endressii with G. versicolor. This cross produced a large number of cultivars which are unusually vigorous plants, exceedingly cold hardy & heat hardy.
The variety 'A. T. Johnson' is most certainly not one of those crane's-bills that blooms briefly or only moderately, making a gardener wonder if it should be moved to a better location or what. Whether planted in a somewhat droughty spot, or in moist well-draining soil; in partial shade or in bright sun, it produces copious numbers of luminous blossoms.
Flowers of this Award of Garden Merit cultivar are silvered pink with darker veins. In partial shade the flowers age to a darker pink so that there will be two shades of flowers throughout each clump. At high summer the blooms may fade to a lighter pink intensifying the veins. Its first lengthy flowering goes from May to July (or June to August), then if sheared will rebloom less intensely for early Autumn.
A youngish plant will clump to eighteen inches height & two foot width, but over time it can achieve a four foot reach with long branchings to all sides. Its spread can be restrained with regular pruning of the longer semi-creeping branches, or it can be allowed to run loose as groundcover. It can also be clipped at groundlevel along the nodes & fairly easily rooted in pots in coldframes, to obtain starts of additional clumps.
The beautiful apple-green foliage attempts to be evergreen through winter but will be ratty before winter's end. In the most exposed locations it may eventually give up & die back on its own before spring. In a protected location it will need to be trimmed down before new spring growth begins, though if ignored it seems to do quite well refreshing itself even without being cut back.
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