The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

The good, in bloom right now, is Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum).

Wild Geranium BS(photo by Ben Schwarz)

 Wild Geranium begins to bloom in early to mid-May as the Virginia Bluebells fade.  Clusters of lavender-pink, five-petaled, anemone-shaped flowers bloom at the top of  1-2’ hairy stems that rise from long-stemmed, segmented palmate basal leaves.  It sows itself with wanton abandonment, but never crowds out other plants.  The soft green leaves turn scarlet n the fall.

It’s common in savannas and woodlands and grows well in partial and full shade in the garden.

wild geranium savanna PP

The savanna at Potawatomi Park in St.Charles mixes Wild Geranium and Golden Alexander (Zizea auria), a well-matched couple.  They are both aggressive, but neither one overruns the other.

wild geranium under my red oak

I hope you remember my mantra to always underplant trees with sedges–the dense root system of sedges holds moisture like a sponge, keeping the root system of the tree hydrated.  I  planted Penn Sedge here, then interplanted the sedges with Jacob’s Ladder and Wild Geranium, but, alas, the Jacob’s Ladder did not thrive.

Wild Geranium savanna island, wild hyacinth

Wild Hyacinth  (Camassia scilloides) is a delightful companion. in light shade.

Wild geranium

Another view of my savanna garden.

Wlld Geranium PP underplant

It is a charming  and practical groundcover under shrubs at Potawatomi Park in St. Charles..

wild geranium BFP

It covers a hillside in Burnidge Forest Preserve.


My friend and neighbor, Kathy, features Wild Geranium on both sides of her front sidewalk in May.  Giant Allium makes  a stunning addition.

Stay tuned for the bad.


6 Responses to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. Suzanne Massion May 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    Hooray for Geranium maculatum! I once had a garden club member warn me to watch out for that wild geranium. It could be invasive and take over some areas in my woodland. I was polite, but secretly thought (I wish). Where ever it’s thrived, it’s been welcomed by me. Wild ginger, False Solomon Seal, and Trillium grandiflorum seem to co-exist comfortably with it.

  2. Suzanne Massion May 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

    Hooray for Geranium maculatum!!! I once had a garden club member warn me that wild geranium could be most invasive and would take over my woodland areas. I was polite but secretly thought (I wish). Where ever it’s thrived has been welcomed by me. It seems to happily co-exist with Wild Ginger, False Solomon’s Seal, and Trillium grandiflorum.

  3. deb May 19, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    My only wish is that geranimum maculatum held its foliage longer through the season.

    • Suzanne Massion May 20, 2016 at 9:00 am #

      I’m with you, Deb. The foliage seems to just dry up and collapse too soon.

  4. Jason May 25, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    I find that in moist part shade wild geranium foliage hangs on pretty well. It’s an essential plant in my garden. I didn’t know about the underplanting with carex mantra, but I’ll keep it in mind.

    • PatHill May 25, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

      My Carex pensylvanica (Penn Sedge) referral applied to underplanting the tree, but you’re right–it also grew under the Wild Geranium soaking up water to keep it hydrated during periods of no rain.

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