Cutting back Geranium maderense.

There comes a point where Geranium maderense finally exhausts itself and starts to look pretty ugly. Its beautiful architectural leaves and reflexed petioles that once helped to hold the plant up finally shrivel and the plant collapses under its own weight. Thousands and flowers and seeds take up a lot of resources.

“When should I cut this beast back?” I wondered.

It got a brief stay of execution when a male California quail decided it was the perfect spot to watch out for danger.

He would watch attentively as the rest of his covey ate in the garden below and cry out if he saw any danger.

When the quails stopped coming around the plant got another stay of execution when it threw out a new flush of blooms but finally it fell over and I decided it was time to go.

The branches of the inflorescence are massive. I had to prune them off one at a time and then untangle them from each other.

They are a little bit unpleasant to work with because they are covered with little glandular hairs that secrete a sticky sugary substance.

The leaves from the main stem are all dried up and dead. The leaves you are seeing here are from two pups. Lower side branches from the base of the plant. I wanted to save one of them so I had to work carefully so I wouldn’t damage it.

Here you can see the old leaf petioles flushed against the trunk. They start out upright and as the plant grows taller the lower leaves reflex and act as a support for the plant. They do a pretty good job at it. The main stem gets three to four feet tall and at least another two feet while in bloom and is quite top heavy. But the leaves helped hold mine up in 30-40 mph gusts of wind.

This is the base of the plant where you can pretty clearly see that the pups are new stems coming from the base. I have had people insist that the plant is completely monocarpic and that my pups were just seedlings but obviously that is not always the case.

I carefully sawed off the main trunk and the weaker pup and saved the one that was more upright. ¬†It has been doing fine and should hopefully bloom next year. Not a problem if it doesn’t make it as there are tons of seedlings already germinating. It is definitely a bit weedy but the seedlings are large and distinct so they are pretty easy to thin out or remove.

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Mr. Crazy

So Mr. Happy has been blooming for over 3 months now. Because of the fasciation of the main stem he ended up being all twisted crazy and topped out at a bit over 8 feet tall. ¬†People don’t quite know what to make of him and I have had many passersby stop and take a look (and a few have wandered right into the bed to get up close. Don’t do that folks. Gardeners hate that.).

The bees and hummingbirds go crazy for the flowers.

For a while the top looked like a deranged outstretched muppet hand.

It looks like it is going to grab someone doesn’t it? Maybe one of those rude people who wander into my flower beds.

The top keeps twisting and curling as it grows. Tons of seed forming so it will be interesting to see if I get a lot of seedlings. As you can see there is still one large rosette at the base that didn’t bloom so perhaps it will survive another year.

I wasn’t too happy at first about the fasciation but now I think it is pretty cool.