All the geraniums that are so popular with us - the show, fancy, ivy-leaved, tricolor, zonal, etc., are botanically known as pelargoniums, but the name geranium is so firmly and popularly associated with our favorite bedding plants that it would be absurd for me to write of them under the much less familiar name of pelargonium. The show and fancy pelargoniums that so strangely are known to some people as Lady and Martha Washingtons, I will treat under their proper name.
The geranium needs no introduction, for if there is a plant known universally by every one it is the geranium. Within thirty years an immense improvement has taken place, both in the habit of the plant and the grand form and color of the flower. The earliest double ones were a curiosity when first they came out, but they were so double that they were of little use, and now a form called semi-double has entirely displaced them. The semi-doubles have one advantage, the petals are not knocked off by a rain storm, and they have also a disadvantage. Some of the varieties, although excellent growers and remarkably free flowering, become unsightly by the inner florets losing color or decaying before the outside florets have opened.
The single varieties are still most useful for bedding. The ivy-leaved section has been improved as much as the zonals, having beautiful semi-double flowers, and now we have double flowers on the bronze and variegated type. Some of the variegated kinds, such as the useful Mountain of Snow, are as vigorous as the zonals, and so are the yellow and bronze varieties, but the tricolor type are less robust.
When Peter Greive some fifty years ago raised the lovely Mrs. Pollock it was a great departure from any other geranium. I have seen great beds of it, or rather edgings of beds. It likes a rich soil and a slight shade. It will burn up and grow less in our hot suns with the ordinary treatment we give the flowering zonals.
Mme. Salleroi is a type of itself, forming no stems, but a mass of short shoots spring from the crown and the plant makes a compact little clump, very suitable for edging.