We interrupt this blog for a little partisan horticultural lobbying.
I love fancy-leaved geraniums. They are a product of the Victorian age, and reflect the busy, colorful aesthetic of that era. Their flowers tend to be simple and not that spectacular -- most of the visual interest is in the multicolored leaves. Surprisingly, a couple of gardening venues around here, as well as the gift shop of a large public garden located within reasonable driving distance, offer a few varieties of fancy-leaved geraniums; so I try to have one or two pots of them around here in the summertime. Unlike those unkillable, happy-to-be-neglected red zonal geraniums that some people keep going on their windowsills for years, fancy-leaved geraniums are prima donnas -- they need more water and less sunlight, and are more susceptible to disease and plain ol' failure to thrive. (Sort of like an overwrought Victorian lady, lying there upon her chaise lounge, hand upon her brow, sipping her Lydia Pinkham's.) That weakness, and their fussy appearance, contributed to fancy-leaved geraniums falling out of favor with gardeners for several generations. But -- gosh darn -- they're so pretty. They're always a featured plant in my fantasy, if-I-won-the-Lotto greenhouse.
Because of deer predation, I've completely given up on in-the-ground gardening at my house. (My one ill-fated attempt at Internet romance imploded when, after the local deer herd utterly destroyed my vegetable garden -- reduced my lovely rows of beans and tomatoes to bare nubbins sticking out of the ground-- I opined in a dejected e-mail to my new friend that as far as I was concerned the only good use for deer was as a source for venison tenderloin, with perhaps some nice wild mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes on the side. Turns out that my correspondent was a militant vegan whose philosophy of non-violence toward sentient beings did not extend to omnivorous humans. Well, alrighty then.) So container gardening is what I do. And that's all right. It's like haiku; the limitations of the medium impose a creative discipline that can result in some nice flower and foliage combinations.
I haven't been in a gardening mood at all this spring, but after spending some time outside raking this afternoon I started getting the bug again; wanted to get my hands in some good, humus-y black dirt and plant something. If you feel that way too, consider some fancy-leaved geraniums.