top of page

For the love of ivy geraniums

I have to admit that the humble - and relatively commonplace - geranium has never been a bloom that has captured my attention and was simply overlooked on visits to a nursery or flower shop. (I clearly need to spend more time on Pinterest).


To me, a geranium was just not a gardener’s muse.


That was until a neglected and forgotten pot plant at the back of our garden suddenly burst forth with the most delicate little pink flower, reminiscent of butterfly wings. I asked my brother-in-law - aka my personal landscape and botanical guru - the name of such a flower, and was told it was an ivy geranium - a ‘Pelargonium peltatum,’ to be exact.

Well, they talk about love at first sight, and that is exactly what happened to me and my potted ivy geranium. From that moment, I resolved to look at ivy geraniums with new eyes. (Shall I compare them to a rose, or is that just wishful thinking?).

What I also realised - to my delight - is that geraniums do not require you to have green fingers; they just adapt, survive and do their pretty little thing without any fuss or ado.

From the palest of blush pinks to the most vibrant cerises and ruby reds, their prolific flowers add a flourish of colourful joy and trailing prettiness to any garden. And these jewel-like clusters deserve a pretty pot. (Or go boho with some old boots). But please, oh please, do toss the plastic hanging pot varieties.

My love affair with ivy geraniums continued when I discovered that they are popular in French garden design - rambling up trellises and cascading out of garden urns and clay pots. (My gardener’s wish has always been to have a French Provencal-style garden - preferably in Provence!). Until then, I get to recreate little potted geranium montages in my South African garden.

BTW, did you know that geraniums are native to South Africa, making their way to Europe in the 17th century? And apparently both the flowers and aromatic foliage are edible. “Make scented geranium cream. Leaves steamed in cream, cream cheese and sugar. When cool, eat with berries or poached peaches.” -Sara Midda (Sara Midda's South of France: A Sketchbook).

The only fitting way, then, to end a blogpost on the glory of geraniums, is with a poem (not mine) - because these little lovelies deserve some literary applause and a moment of poetic reflection:

The Geranium by Kate Northrop

How can you stand it—looking at things?

For example, the geranium

out on the patio,

the single pink

blossom in the sun?

Or stand the sunlight

moving through it,


holding the flower open

like a high

clear note,

an ecstatic widening

which arrives, arrives.

What do you do with it?

While the shrubs and the lowest

overhanging leaves

lift slightly in the wind,

the blossom

doesn't move.

It's the object

of affection, and this is how

it hurts you:

by holding the note open—

Past the front of the apartment,

traffic goes by:

one truck,

then another

comes on,


And I have

the blossom in my vision—


like vision,

making clear the tiniest hidden veins.

I don't know why

I should be here,


and having to see this,

this bright thing

living in time

or have to see it later,

at the end

of the afternoon,

when the sun's


its light diagonal across the pot,

its light then pulling away

across the mossed brick

like a wave,

only slower, slower.

The blossom is still pink,

but no longer


I'll go back

into the kitchen.

But you,

are you stronger than I?

Can you

stay in love with it?

Make promises,

marry it?

Are you so sure

of your position

in the world?


If you love poetry, then please visit the POETRY COUCH...


bottom of page