Geums or avens have got so much going for them. They are beautiful. They are slug-resistant. They are almost evergreen hardy perennials that form clumps, providing excellent ground cover and suppressing weeds. They have lovely, open flowers that attract bees. And their seed heads look good too.

What colour would you like? Red, yellow, orange, white, pink? What about apricot, peach or cream? Or a mixture? It can be arranged.

Geum 'Banana Daiquiri'. Geums

Geum 'Banana Daiquiri'. © Leonora (Ellie) Enking and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Geum 'Banana Daiquiri'

They come in different heights from 15cm to 90cm. And they hybridise with one another like mad, producing all sorts of interesting crosses. So you may find a new exciting flower in your garden!

What do geums like?

Most geums like cool, damp soil so incorporate lots of garden compost or other organic matter when planting them. Most thrive in partial shade and scorch in full sun. Some, though, can cope with more direct sun.

Geum rivale for areas of moist shade

Geum rivale, the water avens, is my favourite. It grows about 30cm / 12in high and forms clumps with nodding, cup-shaped flowers in summer. It loves shady or semi-shady spots and looks great with pulmonaria and hellebores. It needs a fairly moisture-retentive soil so it’s not a plant for very free-draining soils.

The wild water avens (Geum rivale). Geums

The wild water avens (Geum rivale). © H. Zell and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

There are so many possibilities but what about 'Barbra Lawton' (shrimp-pink), 'Leonard’s Variety’ (rose copper in colour and very floriferous), 'Album’ (white and only 15cm / 6in tall), 'Lionel Cox' (pale primrose yellow) or 'Marika' (creamy peach-pink with an orange flush)?

Many other great geums for sunnier areas

Mrs J. Bradshaw is a very well known geum, and none the worse for that. Introduced in 1906, the true plant is a frilly semi-double and bright scarlet with a large yellow boss of stamens, flowering on and off from late April/May through to the autumn. It is 6ocm / 2ft tall when it's in flower. ‘Mrs J. Bradshaw’ flowers in sun or dappled shade.

Geum 'Mrs J Bradshaw'. Geums

Geum 'Mrs J Bradshaw'. © jacinta lluch valero
and reused under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Mrs Bradshaw is one of the parents of 'Totally Tangerine’ which produces tangerine-coloured flowers (surprise!) from April to September. It is relatively tall at 90cm (35in) high. It looks great with euphorbias.

Geum ‘Bell Bank’ has large, frilly copper pink fading to pale rosy pink flowers on reddish brown stems. It grows to 30cm / 12in and flowers from late spring into mid-summer and often again in autumn. It’s used here by Monty Don in a wildlife border around a pool.

Keep your geum going

Geums work hard in the garden and after two or three years the middle becomes exposed and the plant takes on the shape of a ring doughnut. Leave it and it will die. Lift the clump and replant the vigorous outside parts of the plant in spring or early autumn (don’t let it dry out) and it will live for years.

Geums are very easy plants to grow and they look great in any summer garden.