Since the original publication of this Register in 2000, the number of hardy geraniums in cultivation has grown rapidly. An increasing amount of new material has arrived from the wild, interest in the genus has continued to grow in an increasing number of countries and more and more cultivars have been bred, chosen and developed. At the time of the publication of the initial Register, I recognised roughly 400 cultivar names: Today that number exceeds 800, a growth of some 100%.
In many ways, the publication of Peter Yeo’s book ‘Hardy Geraniums’ in 1985 heralded the re-birth of geraniums as everybody’s favourite border plant. Interest had started to grow in the UK in the 1970’s, but it took some years for the interest of enthusiasts to be broadened out to the general gardening public. In the United Kingdom , this continuing interest was marked by a number of publications, starting with the second edition of Peter Yeo’s book. Others followed, which concentrated more on the increasing number of cultivars. These included David Hibberd’s RHS Wisley Handbook “Hardy Geraniums” and Trevor Bath and Joy Jones’s two editions of their “Gardener’s Guide”. Europe saw the publication of “Storkenæb”, by Birgitte Husted Bendtsen, which ran to two editions, and Coen Jansen’s “Geranium”. Most recently, the Hardy Plant Society has published “Geraniums” by Margaret Stone.
In parallel to the growth in interest shown by the public, there has been a growing interest in these plants shown by nurserymen which has paralleled the international acceptance of Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR). Today, an increasing number of cultivars are covered by PBR, with four major licensing centres: the Community Plant Varieties Office (CPVO) based in Angers , France , covering the EU, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPP), which provides Plant Patents for the USA , the Australian Plant Breeders Rights Office and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It is important to note that the each of these offices has total responsibility for its own area of operations, which sometimes leads to confusing conflicts in cultivar naming which are impossible to overcome.
In recognition of the interest now shown in these plants, the years 2002-6 saw a series of trials being conducted on hardy geraniums under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society at their garden at Wisley. These were split into three trials of herbaceous border plants and a separate trial for rock garden plants. The results of these trials have been published and brief details are included against cultivar names in these Registers.
Whilst plant enthusiasts in Britain have been at the forefront of developments in hardy geraniums over the years, they are by no means alone. An increasing number of enthusiasts in North America, Europe and Australasia have cultivated hardy geraniums for as long as Britain . They, also, joined in this movement, introducing new forms from the wild, developing their own cultivars and introducing them in local markets. Enthusiasts for hardy geranium cultivars today form an international community.
It is worth adding that hardy geraniums were voted the Plant of the Millennium by the Hardy Plant Society at their Millennium meeting and that G. ROZANNE ‘Gerwat’ was voted Chelsea Flower shows Plant of the Centenary
Background to the Register
As Registrar, I have produced the Register on behalf of the International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) for Geranium, which works under the aegis of the The Geraniaceae Group. They have been prepared according to the recommendations of the “Cultivated Code”, or to give its more formal name “The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants”.
The purpose of the Register is to provide interested parties with a validated list of cultivar names for Geranium which have been, or are, in circulation. The Register includes all of the names that have been discovered by the Registrar, from a wide variety of sources, including books, articles, nursery catalogues, plant finders, as well as a wide variety of historic sources.
The term “Denomination Class” is defined within the Cultivated Code as “….the taxon within which the use of a cultivar epithet may not be duplicated….” except under very particular circumstances. Also, it is “….a single genus or nothogenus…..”. In this case it is the genus Geranium and, in agreement with that definition, the Register contains all of the cultivar names that have been discovered that fall within that genus.
The status of cultivar names
Cultivars shown in the Register may fall within one of five categories, indicated by the entry following the term ‘Status’. The definition of these terms is as follows:
- “Accepted name” – Cultivars marked thus have been accepted by me as valid cultivar names that comply with all of the rules identified in the Cultivated Code, including those regarding Establishment. Where cultivars were originally accepted by my predecessor as Registrar, the Internationale Stauden Union, a note of their Registration Number is included;
- “Rejected name” – This term is applied to every cultivar name that fails to comply with one or more of the rules contained within the Cultivated Code. In each case the reason for the invalidity is shown. Where a new or corrected name has been given them, these names are shown in the accompanying notes. However, in a significant number of these cases, the plants have been products of one nursery and have had a limited distribution, which has since ceased. In such cases, a new name has not been allocated.
- “Undetermined name” – this term covers the remainder of the items in the Register, not included in the above definitions. In the main these are cultivars where original publication details are being sought, very often where the development of the cultivar took place at smaller nurseries in the United Kingdom or outside the United Kingdom . In a number of cases that are more than one version of the possible name, which will be resolved when publication details have been obtained.
- “Synonym” – These are names of cultivars that was at one point properly named, but that now goes by another name.
- “Marketing designation” – For completeness, I have included names of which I know that are applied to a validly named cultivar for marketing purposes. These are normally written in capital letters, without single quotation marks.
The structure of cultivar names
The full name of a cultivar consists of its cultivar epithet and its denomination class, in this case the genus Geranium. The cultivar epithet is enclosed by single quotation marks and starts with a capital letter.
Since 1st January, 1959, new Latin epithets have not been acceptable for cultivars. However, there are a significant number of the pre-1959 ones still in circulation, often referring to plants introduced originally from the wild. Very often these names duplicate each other across species within a genus e.g. there are a number of ‘Album’ epithets within Geranium. In such cases, the correct way to write the name of the cultivar is to include the genus, species and cultivar epithets e.g. Geranium sylvaticum ‘Album’.
For the greater majority of cultivars, whilst the species epithet may be included in the name, it does not need to be: This is because, generally, there is uniqueness in cultivar names within the Denomination Class. Thus, it is as correct to write Geranium ‘David McLintock’ as it is to write Geranium x oxonianum ‘David McLintock’ and it is certainly rather faster to do so!
The species information following the cultivar epithet indicates the species that the cultivar probably belongs to or the species which have probably crossed to produce the hybrid. The emphasis here is on the words “probably”. Clearly, in the case of chance seedling found in a garden or nursery, the raiser may well believe that the parents were two plants that are nearby. However, in an area with many geraniums, it is reasonably likely that a bee has carried pollen from a remote plant or even that the seed has been carried to another area. Even in the case of planned crossing, it is not impossible that some mistake in the process has led to results other than those planned. We should also not forget that the plants labelled with a species name are only too often a hybrid that has been grown from seed by a thoughtless grower.
It is worth noting that, where a cultivar is a hybrid between two or more species, that it would be wrong to write any one of those parental species names as part of the name of the cultivar. For example, Geranium ‘Harmony’ is a hybrid of G. pratense and G. collinum. It would be wrong to write it as G. pratense ‘Harmony’ or G. collinum ‘Harmony’.
An important part of the acceptance criteria for a new cultivar is that it has been properly published in accordance with the Cultivated Code. This normally means that the name has been printed in a dated document that is fairly widely distributed, together with a description that mentions the features by which it can be differentiated from similar plants. In addition, cultivar names may arise from the issuance of PBR or by publication in these Registers.
All of the cultivars that have the status “Accepted name” have been properly published. Following the phrase “Earliest Publication Date”, you will find the earliest place where I have found satisfactory evidence as to that fact. A large number of these references are books or publications which are widely available or fairly easily available through reference libraries, such as the Lindley Library of the Royal Horticultural Society. Two particular examples are the regular newsletters of the two main plant groups involved with the genus. The bibliography lists all of these main sources and their publishers.
Many of the remainder are references to trade publications, particularly nursery catalogues. These are not easily accessible after the event, although copies may be lodged with one of the appropriate libraries.
Following this term, I have included any other information that I feel might be valuable to the reader. This includes items such as the name of the raiser and where it was raised and what the cultivar name means. In the case of new cultivars since the last edition and lesser known cultivars, I have included a brief description of the plant, based on the raisers notes.
I have also included extensive information on grants of rights. However, these are indicative, as they often change, so you should not rely on them, but check with the proper authority.
The Cultivated Code calls for the propagation method to be shown for each cultivar. However, that information is not available for many of the cultivars shown on this checklist. However, the work carried out by Alan Bremner in hybridising the genus has shown that geraniums hybridise reasonably freely. Thus, it seems reasonable to suggest that to keep cultivars ‘true’ will require that they are propagated vegetatively. It follows that seed produced offspring should not be called by the parents’ cultivar name.
Plant Breeders Rights
Plant Breeders Rights are internationally recognised under what is known as the UPOV Convention, which stands for the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. There are a number of organisations responsible for the granting of such rights to nurserymen in their territory as I indicated earlier, each being a part of the Government in that country.
While there are differences in the details of these schemes, overall there are more similarities than differences. All of them essentially revolve around an organisation’s investment in developing and marketing a new plant being protected for a period of time where that plant meets certain criteria and in return for the payment of start up and continuing fees. The protection is in terms of the originator being able to demand payment for the propagation of their plants by a third party. The criteria are based on the plant being distinct, uniform and stable in its characteristics: The “quality” of the plant plays no part in its acceptability, except to the extent of these criteria. The start up fee for licensing and the continuing fees must be paid or the rights go away. The rights only apply within the territory of the organisation giving them, so that a plant may have such rights in the US and Australia , but not in Europe and any other combination of territories you might like to think of.
I think that the issue of PBR had gained sufficient importance that I should include some material about them both in this note and, more extensively, in the Register. To produce it I have investigated the situation in the main areas producing cultivars of hardy geraniums: the European Union, North America and Australia . The table notes which plants have such rights in each of those territories, as well as brief notes about the periods of such rights and who has them.
One issue that is of even more direct relevance to the Register is that of naming. Under the Cultivated Code it is accepted that decisions made by PBR offices take precedence over the work of International Cultivar Registrars. Thus, if a PBR office gives a name to a plant for which rights have been granted, that name become the cultivar name of that plant, irrespective of any other decision the Registrar may have made. Any other name applied to that plant becomes a marketing designation, which is written in capital letters and without single quotation marks. Thus, the well known Geranium sanguineum cultivar marketed by Blooms of Bressingham and others has a cultivar name Geranium ‘Bloger’ and a marketing designation Geranium ALAN BLOOM.
The Naming of Groups of Cultivars
The Cultivated Code allows for the provision of Groups (previously known as Cultivar-Groups) to be created as assemblages of two or more similar, named cultivars and for such groups to be named in a similar way to cultivars. Clearly, such a device has similarities to inter-specific hybrid epithets, such as G. x oxonianum, but is possibly more flexible in practice e.g. It is possible to place one cultivar in more than one cultivar-group, if there is some practical purpose. Hopefully, it will be of greater use to gardeners and horticulturalists, as it can flex to meet new needs as they emerge.
Three such Groups have been created over the past few years.
- The G. clarkei Purple Flowered Group
- The Rambling Robin Group
- The G. pratense Victor Reiter Group
Members of these Groups are indicated by a note in the fifth column.
The latest full checklist was published by the International Cultivar Registration Authority for geraniums, under the auspices of the International Geraniaceae Group. Its effective date was 31st March, 2008.
© David X Victor, 2015
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated into any other language, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without the prior, written permission from the copyright holder.
- GGN – This abbreviation refers to the Newsletter of the Geraniaceae Group, an international society, based in the UK , concerned with both the botany and horticulture of the Geraniaceae family. It is under the auspices of this Group that this publication is produced. Contact details can be found elsewhere in this publication.
- HGG – This abbreviation refers to the Hardy Geranium Group of the Hardy Plant Society, an international group, based in the UK , concerned with the hardy geraniums, both species and cultivars, particularly from the growing viewpoint. If you are interested in this group, please contact Mrs Tricia Fraser, 16 Hallam Grange Croft, Sheffield S10 4BP.
- “The Gardeners Guide to Growing Hardy Geraniums”, Trevor Bath & Joy Jones. Hardback -David & Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon , UK , 1994 – ISBN 0 7153 0014 8. Paperback – David & Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon , UK , 2003 – ISBN 0 7153 1624 9.
- “Hardy Geraniums (Cranesbills) Today”, Richard Clifton. British Pelargonium & Geranium Society, England, 1979.
- “Geranium Family Species Check List, Part 2 – Geranium”, Richard Clifton. Geraniaceae Group, Dover . Edition IV, Issue 3, 2000. ISBN: 1-899742-02-6
- “L’essential sur les Géraniums Vivaces”, Dominique Evrard. Section Plantes Vivaces, SNHF, Paris , France , 1997 – ISBN 2-9502708-6-7.
- “Hardy Geraniums”, a RHS Wisley Handbook, David Hibberd. Cassell Illustrated, Octopus Publishing Group, London , England , 2003 – ISBN 1 84403 017 2.
- “The Genus Geranium”, Walter E. Th. Ingwersen. Re-printed by the Geraniaceae Group, Dover , England , originally published 1946
- “Geranium für den Garten”, Coen Jansen. Verlag Eugen Ulmer GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany, 1997 – ISBN 3-8001-6613-5
- “Hardy Geraniums”, Peter F. Yeo. B. T. Batsford, London , UK , 2001 – ISBN 0 7134 8500 0
- “Storkenæb – bogen om Geranium”, Birgitte H. Bendtsen. Forlaget Geranium , Denmark , 2003 – ISBN 887-989732-0-7
- “The International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants” C.D. Brickell and others. Acta Horticulturae, volume 144, Leuven , Belgium , 2004- ISSN 057-7572.
- “The Plantfinder”, a Royal Horticultural Society publication, Editor Tony Lord. Dorling, Kindersley Ltd., London , England , various dates – ISBN 0 7513 1945 7
- “Garten Praxis”, Editor Karlheinz Rücker. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart, Germany, 1999.