Plant of the Season


Plant of the Season is brought to you by Gayle Parkes, OGV sub-committee member. She also posts to OGV's Instagram - make sure you check back regularly for her latest post. 

Geum, commonly called avens, is a genus of about 50 species of rhizomatous perennial herbaceous plants in the rose family and its subfamily Rosoideae, widespread across Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa, and New Zealand. They are closely related to Potentilla and Fragaria. Wikipedia

What a splendid little plant is geum! It is such a happy, unfussy perennial that is hardy, easy to grow and an asset in any summer garden. Whether in a cottage garden setting, in a perennial border, a container garden, bobbing about amongst the shrubs in a large, small or in between garden, this bright, cheerful, pretty little plant is a winner.
Geum, with its attractive, neat foliage and showy flowers is a long blooming perennial that is fast growing and low maintenance, giving pleasure from spring through to autumn. There is a large variety to choose from so you are bound to find just the right colour and size for your patch.
Performing beautifully for months and months, the flowers are produced on long stalks, their colours ranging from fiery oranges or tones of yellow, as well as rich reds and pretty pinks. The bloom shape ranges from fluffy upward facing doubles to nodding singles. The seed heads of the plant are also attractive with a feathery tail like appearance. 
The leaves of the geum are hairy and coarse textured. This dark green clump forming foliage ranges from deciduous to evergreen, depending on species and conditions. This is a wonderful contrast to the wiry stems gallantly holding aloft the pretty blooms up to 20cm high, allowing them to bob about in the breeze.
These showy flowers also are a magnet for bees and butterflies that love to forage amongst the petals. As we know, long and repeat blooming is a big help to our pollinator friends who we need to care for. Even better news, rabbits and deer are not particularly fond of the downy, hairy foliage! Win, win for gardeners up my neck of the woods!
A position in part shade, dappled sun or morning sun is perfect for geums. Please note, they do enjoy protection from the hot afternoon sun. Geums thrive in soils that have been boosted with plenty of compost (what plant doesn’t???). They are very frost hardy even in severe frost areas.
This certainly is a plant that keeps on giving. It is best to propagate by division. Divide your clumps during autumn for best results. You will be rewarded, I promise! In terms of pruning, all they really need is a general shaping as required as these are neat little plants. However, a haircut to remove spent stems at the end of the first blooming will promote repeat flower stems through summer.
For the relaxed, romantic look that is very popular right now, geums look gorgeous mixed in with other blooms and foliage in a vase. Maybe an idea for your Christmas table? I imagine the combination of orange and red geum mingling together would look awesome! For the longest lasting cut flowers, pick them early in the morning and choose blooms that are only half open.
This under rated plant is really worth thinking about for that empty spot in your garden. They are easily found in garden centres and online. Don’t forget, odd numbers are the go. Plant three, or five, or seven, or nine…….. go nuts on geum. Such a great summer doer!

 Photos by Kate Seddon and Kate Catterall