I will admit to being underwhelmed when the RHS named Geranium ‘Rozanne’ their ‘Plant of the Centenary’ in 2013. The hardy perennial was chosen by RHS members from a list of 10 plants which included Russell Hybrid lupins, Rosa ‘Iceberg’, and Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’. All are charming, garden-worthy plants but don’t really set my pulse racing. To my mind, time and popularity has rendered them slightly passé. Each candidate was previously declared a ‘Plant of the Decade’ with G. ‘Rozanne’ claiming the title in the early noughties.
Now that I have had the opportunity to grow the plant in question I can better understand its appeal. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is completely hardy and bears lovely mauve-blue flowers with paler centres non-stop from May until November, even December in a mild year. Right now, following a jolly good haircut in August, my plant is once again smothered in flowers. Her sprawling nature can be a blessing or a curse depending on where you position her – in my case much too near the edge of a narrow path – but this is a minor grumble. Any flowering plant that tolerates the shade and diabolical drainage in our London garden commands my immediate respect. I have Geranium ‘Rozanne’ planted with Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ (‘Plant of the Year’ in 2013) and Tiarella cordifolia, which is a lovely, low maintenance combination.
I am still not convinced a ‘Plant of the Centenary’ is a distinction of very much value to gardeners. The plant world has so much bounty to offer it is surely impossible to consider any one plant head and shoulders above the rest? And if our hands were forced, I am pretty sure we’d all choose differently; a plant that spoke to us somehow, that responded to our tender loving care. But if a plant had to win, then Geranium ‘Rozanne’ was a well-deserving, forgiving, timeless plant that one could never go wrong with.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ is widely available in nurseries and garden centres.