As we are awash with the purple waves of lilacs, fleeting crab apple blossoms and the spent tulip blooms curling back to the earth, I can’t help but admire the humble, yet lovely geum that blooms in the front yard of the Garden Drama test garden.
Geums are a diminutive little perennial (varieties range from zone 3 to 5 in the garden centers, so watch your tags), that live happily at the front of your border. Because they are one of the few bloomers at this time of year (they are late this year … it was May 1 in 2010), they are also a perfect focal point in a locale that greets you everyday.
I have read where the geum is a native to the Midwestern prairie and this does not surprise me. Their delicate, papery flowers, though brightly colored, dance atop their lanky stems. Their foliage, and overall appearance for that matter, are not unlike small poppies. They top off at about 12 to 15 inches. After bloom time, which can go a month or more with deadheading, the foliage fills the border canvas nicely.
The geums in my test garden are hardware store plants, my affectionate term for those plants you sometimes impulsively pick-up when you stop for some nails or caulk. Yesterday, I did notice some at Bachman’s in south Minneapolis. A red variety, ‘Red Dragon,’ that blooms a bit later in June, and was rated at zone 4.
Geums will also take some shade, so use them in your garden wherever you have the space. Their cheery little flower faces will be a breath of fresh air next spring.