There’s a river flowing through the center of the Bressingham Stroll Garden, but it’s not of water. It’s of geraniums, specifically, a dazzling, blue-violet Cranesbill geranium called ‘Rozanne’. It’s a beautiful plant that is covered with a profusion of two-inch-wide flowers from late May through the first heavy frost. Hundreds of these hardy plants meander through the garden; the boldest statement at Elm Bank’s newest garden.
Rozanne is a story of keen observation, perseverance and technology. In 1990, Donald and Rozanne Waterer noticed a pair of particularly attractive geraniums growing in their retirement garden in Somerset, England. They collected seeds and, from the resultant seedlings, found that the offspring was exceptional, with stronger growth, larger flowers, a long blooming season and more attractive foliage than the parents.
In 1992, the Waterers offered the plant to Adrian Bloom, owner of Blooms of Bressingham. Bloom agreed the plant had great potential. And that began the technology end of the story. Once upon a time, readying a plant for market was a matter of sowing seeds or taking cuttings. Over the past twenty years, tissue cultures have revolutionized the process. In a tissue culture, tiny fragments of a plant grow into clones, preserving the desirable traits of the parent.
Plant is produced in this method are generally sterile and Rozanne is no exception. This geranium also resists division and cuttings. But the tradeoffs are worth it: Rozanne’s striking appearance and long bloom cycle are matched by its heat tolerance and resistance to disease (deer also find it unappetizing). Also, it can be grown in full sun or part shade. It is a truly versatile plant.
It took nine years to bring Rozanne to market, but in the intervening years, the cultivar has found a prominent place. Rozanne’s ascendance was capped by being named 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year.