This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Now that this fine class of plants is getting much attention in many gardening papers of late, I beg to offer a few remarks as to the best varieties to be grown for the above purpose. The immense quantity of seedlings raised yearly is all but causing confusion, and in many cases disappointment. True, gardeners are very slow in discarding any good variety to make room for new ones, unless they prove its qualities to be better than those they have been growing. Nevertheless there is an immense improvement of late in this class of Pelargoniums, more so than in the Tricolor class. All shades of colour are now well represented. Only a few years back, when Christine came out it made a sensation in the bedding department, just because its colour was what was wanted at that time; now it is not worth house-room as compared to the following: Mrs Wm. Paul, Zaidee, Mrs Keeler, Helen Pennington, Blue Bell, etc. Madame Vaucher was then the best white bedder we had, and is still a good pot-variety, to which this paper especially refers; but it has been supplanted by White Wonder, White Tom Thumb, Purity, Virgo Maria, etc. The latter is the largest trusser of all this class. All other colours have been much improved.
I subjoin a few select varieties, giving quality of flower the preference, I mean the broad-petalled varieties: Mrs H. Cannell, an improvement on Madame Werle; Mrs Keeler, an improvement on Mrs Wm. Paul; Helen Pennington, rose pink; Chilwell Beauty, purple magenta; Eclat, rich magenta; Leonidas, bright red; Hydrangea, deep rose lilac; Monster - this is a great improvement on Lord Derby; Climax, bright rose; Salmon, clear white eye; Acme, flame scarlet, the edge of the petals shading off to pure white; Titian, orange scarlet, clear white eye; Virgo Maria, pure white; John Hopper, soft rose scarlet, a great improvement on Roi d'ltalie; Shakespeare, bright red - the individual flowers of this variety measure 2 inches in diameter. If any of your many readers of the ' Gardener' know of any Zonal Geraniums with larger individual flowers than those mentioned above, I will be glad to hear of them through the 'Gardener.' J. T. Burns.