Some plants just have everything that a gardener could require: good looks, long flowering season, trouble-free personality and hardiness. One plant that is quite unfairly ignored is Geum 'Mrs J Bradshaw'.
From a distance, the flowers look like strong red blotches suspended above the ground. The semi-double flowers, each 5cm (2in) wide are a clear deep-scarlet colour, enhanced by yellow stamens.
The flowers come in a tremendous flush in May and June but continue to appear for most of the summer. This capacity to flower for a long time makes the geum an excellent anchorage plant, unifying a planting scheme consisting of more ephemeral flowers.
Mrs J. Bradshaw is one of the chiloense types which originally came from the island of Chiloe off the coast of Chile and was introduced in 1921.
It is frequently sold alongside the golden-yellow semi-double 'Lady Strathedon’ as they are practically twins, one red, one yellow. Many named geums grow true to the parent only from cuttings, but 'Mrs. Bradshaw' & 'Lady Strathedon' can be very successfully seed-grown.
In 1909 Geum chiloense “Mrs J. Bradshaw” was awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sow in late summer/autumn or late winter/late spring
Sow at 18 to 22°C (65 to 70°F) in a well drained compost mix. Cover with vermiculite. Water from the base of the tray, keeping the compost moist but not wet at all times. Germination should in 21 to 28 days but is occasionally a little longer.
Prick out each seedling once it has its first set of true leaves, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays containing a peaty soil. Grow on under glass. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out in spring. Plant 40cm (15in) apart.
Geums tend to have a mound of foliage and flowers either on spikes or just above the foliage so place them at the front of the border. The colours are to some extent all on the warm side of the colour wheel so they associate well with other warm and hot colours.
Geums like a fertile soil enriched with well-rotted organic matter which won't dry out too much in summer. Position in either full sun or light shade suits them.
Most Geums first flush of flower is late spring to early summer. Keep well watered and deadhead by removing the spent flower stems at their base. This encourages more flower production.
Geums will remain evergreen through winter but the old leaves become brown by the end of winter and make the plants look scruffy. You can give the plants a good haircut in late winter or pull off old leaves.
They are tolerant of pests and diseases and only need to be staked in very exposed conditions. In very dry conditions some Geums may be slightly affected by powdery mildew. If it bothers you cut off all the mature leaves keeping the small, new ones starting to grow from the base.
Congested colonies can be lifted and divided every three years to maintain flower vigour, otherwise the middle becomes exposed and the plant declines and dies out. If divided regularly they perform for years.
The easiest time to divide is in early autumn. Break off pieces and replant or pot up, but do not let divisions dry out. Division can also be done in spring.
Cottage/Informal Gardens or Flowers Borders and Beds, Cut Flowers.
Geum quellyon, commonly called Scarlet avens. Chilean avens, or Grecian rose, is a perennial herb of the Rosaceae family, native to the Central Region of Chile. It is commonly cultivated as a garden ornamental, and in that context is sometimes called Geum chiloense.
There are about fifty species in the genus Geum, and they are all herbaceous perennials. They places of origin are widely scattered: in Europe, the Americas, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa.
The summer-flowering chiloense hybrids come from a cold, wet climate in Chiloé, the second largest island in Chile. They need cool, moist soil. The two most popular chiloense types are the red 'Mrs J Bradshaw’ (1909) and yellow 'Lady Stratheden’ (1921) both come true from seed, something most geums cannot do.
Pronounced JEE-um kock-SIN-ee-um. The word geum comes from the Greek and means ‘to give flavour or relish’. Since Roman times the plant has been used for flavouring food and drink.
The species name chiloense refers to the island of Chiloe which is situated off the coast of Chile.
The common name of Avens derives from Middle English avence, from Old French, from Medieval Latin avencia. The meaning of which is unclear but it is thought to refer to Geum urbanum as 'a kind of clover'.
Sue Martin, the National Plant Collection Holder - explained the origins of its name:
John (Jack) Bradshaw, and Kathleen (who was his cousin and wife) lived at The Grove, Southgate in north London. John Bradshaw was a keen gardener and was friendly with Amos Perry who had a nursery, Perry's Hardy Plant Farm, at Enfield.
Early in the 1900s Amos Perry gave the Bradshaw's gardener, George Whitelegg, (who later had a famous nursery himself), a box of geum seedlings. George Whitelegg noticed that one was particularly good and named it after his employer's wife, Mrs J. Bradshaw.
The plant won an Award of Merit from the RHS in 1909. Mrs Bradshaw died in 1928."
The National Collection:
Sue Martin holds the National Collection of Geum, of which there are over a hundred different cultivars, hybrids, varieties and species. The garden, at Cranbook in Kent is open on selective days in May.
If you would like to visit please telephone first - 0044 (0)1580 852425.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 500mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Seed Form Natural Family Rosaceae Genus Geum Species chiloense Cultivar Mrs J Bradshaw Synonym Formerly Geum quellyon, aka Geum chiloense 'Goldball' Common Name Scarlet Avens Other Common Names Chilean avens, or Grecian rose Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Flowers May to September Height 60cm (24in) Spread 60cm (24in) Position Full sun to partial shade Soil Fertile, well drained soil