Last week I enjoyed a visit to the RHS plant & design show in central London. Wandering the halls I noticed this lovely Geum ‘Bell Bank’ bowing its head apologetically. A semi-double variety with slightly larger flowers than usual for a Geum, the petals are the colour of stewed rhubard and it has contrasting lemon yellow stamens. In April and May flowers open from fat dark pink buds and are followed by wonderful fluffy seed heads, although the seed is not viable.
Raised in the eighties by Geoffrey Smith at his garden in Kettlesing, West Yorkshire there’s some questioning over how this striking little plant came about. Was is by luck or judgment? Some believe that in a moist shady spot of his garden G. Rivulare seedlings next to Geum coccineum (now officially G. chiloense) hybridised naturally. Sue Martin (the present Plant Heritage Collection holder) however believes that Smith deliberately crossed G. rivale seedlings with orange G. ‘Borisii’, which is sometimes found to flower in sunnier spots.
G. ‘Bell Bank’ grows to around 30cm tall x 30-45cm spread and given a shaded position in free draining, moisture retentive soil is an easy plant to grow requiring little attention.
Other forms that have caught my eye.
Geum ‘Lemon Drops’ was first introduced by plants-women Beth Chatto. It has the most beautiful single yellow flowers and looks exquisite teamed with moisture loving Iris sibirica ‘Snow Queen’ at the front of a moist, sunny border. Flowers from May to June, 25cm tall x 25cm spread.
Geum coccineum ‘Borisii’ has fabulous bright terracotta-orange flowers held high on wiry stems above scalloped, fresh green foliage from June to August. A perfect carpeting ground cover for the front of a sunny free draining border, 30cm tall x 30cm spread.