Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Favorite Plant in the Garden Right Now...

Is a hardy Geranium known as Geranium phaeum 'Samobor,'  'Mourning Widow' or just dusky cranesbill. Hardy Geraniums are pretty common, so what do I love about this one?

I love the dark, almost black splotch on the leaves.

The leaves are quite large and really make a visual impact.

I like it so much I have it planted repeatedly throughout my garden.

It plays well with others.

Here it is with Alchemilla mollis and Persicaria 'Painter's Palette (and a rogue daylily photo-bombing the picture).

With Heuchera 'Tiramisu' and 'Snow Angel.'

In fact, I like it so much with those two companions, I have repeated that combo in other spots in my garden.

The foliage looks good with this plain green Sanguisorba too.

With that dark splotch, it would also make a good companion for black mondo grass and any of the dark-leaved bugbanes, such as 'Brunette' or 'Hillside Black Beauty.'

It has lovely, unusual, reflexed flowers, smaller than a hardy Geranium like Rozanne, but dark purple, to match the leaf splotch. The smallish flowers rise on stalks above the foliage. Granted, you have to look closely to appreciate them, but I like that. And it will rebloom if you remember to cut it back soon enough in the season.

It reseeds modestly, at least in my garden.

Two babies, rescued and potted up.

Here's a third, which has popped up the middle of a patch of Sedum 'Cape Blanco.'

Occasionally the seedlings, like this one, have only a touch of the dark splotch.

And a plus here in the moist PNW is that slugs don't seem to bother it.

Here are some stats about Geranium phaeum 'Samobor.'

Height: 18-24 inches
Width: 15-18 inches
Hardiness: Zone 5 - Zone 8
Sun Exposure: Partial Sun to Full Shade
Soil Preference: Moderately fertile, not water-logged

I seldom see it for sale at local nurseries, but you can buy it online by mail order from:
Digging Dog Nursery
Bluestone Perennials
Lazy S's Farm Nursery
Keeping It Green Nursery
Joy Creek Nursery

Geranium phaeum 'Samobor' was found in 1990 by Elizabeth Strangman of Washfield Nursery in Kent, England growing as a natural variant in the woods near Samobor, Croatia. It was introduced to North American gardeners by Heronswood.

I'm linking this to danger garden's current "My Favorite Plant in the Garden" meme, which you can read here. Her fave plant this week is a cool sea holly called Eryngium maritimum, one I've never heard of, check it out!


  1. Wow...I like it! Especially that image with your hand for scale, the leaves are large! Perhaps I need to beg for a start come the next gb plant swap?

  2. What a great looking plant! I'd say - dramatic! And spreads!

  3. I like it too... Reminds me of Tiarella. And it would look great with my Hillside Black Beauty. I love the seedheads too! I may have to beg you for a start at our next swap too - very pretty please!

  4. I'm sure we have that plant, but I just went to look and it is now all green probably because it is too shaded. I guess if I want it to be a star I need to give it top billing.

  5. Excellent selection Alison ! I can't tell you how many years in a row I've stood in front of a flat of these in Robin Parers booth at the SF Garden show, wondering if I should buy one ...I'll remember this post next March , unless come across one before then. Love the combinations too...

  6. A very nice geranium! Striking foliage.

  7. I'm very fond of the true geraniums and grow a number of them but haven't tried G. phaeum. I had no idea that the leaves got so large! My Sunset Western Garden Book says I'm just within the suitable range so I'm definitely going to try it.

  8. I love the way it combines so well with other "painted" foliage. Very Pretty!

  9. I love the foliage of geraniums and Samobor blooms in spring.

  10. Thanks for sharing the ordering sites for this beauty! I was sold before I saw the bloom, that sealed the deal. Gorgeous.


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