Stalwart perennial for dry shade

Geranium. The word brings to mind the ubiquitous red flowers growing in clay pots with the requisite “spike” and vinca vine for a classic summer display. The common name “geranium” is given to the genus of plants that are actually Pelargonium species. A true perennial, geraniums are a very large genus of plants comprising both fussy little rock garden specimens to tough plants that shrug off clay, drought and deer. One of the best of the latter type is Geranium macrorrhizum or bigroot geranium (also known as cranesbill). A perennial which actually earns the epithet “low maintenance”, Geranium macrorrhizum makes a pretty edging plant in both sun and part-shade- whether in the perennial border or as an inspired choice surrounding shrubs in a traditional foundation planting. Topping out at around 15 inches high, it has lobed leaves which turn reddish in the fall.   The species and its cultivars have pale pink to warm purple flowers, which bloom heavily in mid-spring and may re-bloom throughout the summer. Its aromatic roots dissuade deer, and plants will naturalize and form a weed-proof ground cover even in dry shade. Easily divided and simple to grow, Geranium macrorrhizum is a stalwart perennial plant which belongs in every garden.

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