My order of rooted pelargonium cuttings arrived from Fibrex Nurseries this morning. It's that time of year, when boxes of little newly raised plants are being sent all over the country. I knew to expect the pelargoniums this week because they put on their website that orders would be sent out in the week starting 16 May. The cut-off date for ordering for spring delivery from the full range of the catalogue was mid April, and I made sure to get my order in before then. Not very long before, admittedly.
I love pelargoniums. To be clear, I am talking about the tender, semi-shrubby plants originally from southern Africa, not the hardy garden geraniums, though most of the time I call them geraniums like almost everybody does. I have liked them since childhood. I like handling them. I like their smell, and the good natured way that most will root so easily from cuttings. I find a meditative satisfaction in picking off the old leaves, the way they come away neatly from the stalk and the plant looks so tidy afterwards. I like the colours the flowers come in, reds, purples, pinks and whites, and the range of flower sizes and shapes from gigantic, ruffled formal affairs straight out of a Victorian conservatory to tiny, wild five pointed stars.
I have a motley collection, mostly bought in garden centres, some souvenirs of garden visits, some gifts, a few survivors from previous forays into the world of the specialist geranium nursery, some with names and some without. They have to be over-wintered frost free, and some types seem to cope better with life in my greenhouse over the winter than others. Scented leaf varieties do pretty well, as do those Uniques I've tried, which are similar to the scented leaf brigade but with better flowers and less interesting leaves. Regals have been a struggle. I've just ordered two, and am going to try them this time in the conservatory. The Fibrex website says they don't require full sun, unlike most pelargoniums, and perhaps they will like winter better in there than in the greenhouse.
I used to be keen on the ivy leafed sort, as grown trailing down the front of Swiss chalets, but they tend to become overwhelmed in the muddle of pots by our pond, and overwinter badly. I went through a phase of loving the rosebud sort with their double flowers, but now find myself more drawn to the tiny flowered species and species hybrids. I have got slightly bored of the bright scarlet zonals as stocked in a garden centre near you, though I am nursing along a rather poorly specimen of the old variety 'Paul Crampel' which has been very reluctant to make roots, in the hope that it will yield some cuttings and I can start again. I have a couple of cheerful variegated types which out of flower I am apt to muddle up, In flower it's obvious which is which, since 'Wilhelm Langguth' has fat, bright cherry coloured blooms while 'Frank Headley' is starrier and salmon pink.
Fibrex are first class. They are old pros who have been exhibiting at Chelsea for years. Indeed, they hold a Royal Warrant, suppliers of pelargoniums to HRH The Prince of Wales. I ordered six plants and got the six I'd chosen, no problem. They were lovely bushy plants for all that they were only recently rooted cuttings. I am just psyching myself up to trudge out through the rain to the greenhouse and pot them up. I would recommend Fibrex Nurseries to anybody. You will not be disappointed.