Rozanne makes the cut: long-blooming, fast-growing and blue-flowered. What’s not to like?

The Rozanne geranium

It’s always fascinating to see the new perennials that get showcased in catalogs each year. Recently, I saw a daylily with frosty white foliage that has green stripes; it’s called Secured Borders. (Who comes up with these names?) And it seems every time you turn around, there’s a new coneflower or heuchera.

I often find these new cultivars look good on the bench at the nursery, but bring them home, and… not so much. A few years ago, I was smitten by a new variety of heuchera called Obsidian. Its purple-black leaves were gorgeous. But, after three seasons in the ground, the plant is actually smaller than the potted plant I bought. I’ve tried several of the new coneflowers, too. But the colors are disappointing and the hardiness is variable.

When I design gardens for clients, I rarely try the new cultivars. Instead, I stick to a relatively short list of “reliables” that can take the conditions we have up here in Vermont. Once in a while, I find a new perennial to add to list of reliables. The most recent entry is a perennial geranium called Rozanne.

Rozanne makes a good companion to an orange chrysanthemum variety called Bolero.

It has lovely violet-blue flowers and a lax habit, making it a fine groundcover. And unlike Johnson’s Blue, which seems to grow upright and then flop, Rozanne sprawls gracefully. If it gets out of hand, you can trim it or redirect the stems. What’s more, it has handsome, patterned foliage, grows quickly and is long-blooming—in my garden and my clients’.

The Perennial Plant Association has taken note of this plant; it’s Perennial Plant of the Year for 2008. Plants that make the list must be suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions, low-maintenance and pest- and disease-resistant.

So, here’s to Rozanne, a newcomer that makes my list of old reliables. How does it fare in your garden?

-David Grist, Online Content Coordinator