Have you seen it yet? Geums are rather new to me, though I’ve grown hundreds of different perennial plants over the years. Gardening at the 45th parallel is challenging to say the least. A whole new outlook comes with this move to the Great White North. And while I’m not a ‘pink’ person, preferring rich reds and blues, I’m discovering that a touch of peach, coral and salmon can really set off the deeper colors I’ve always clung to.
I would never have purchased Mai Tai Geum left to my own devices. My friend Brent at Intrinsic Gardens sent me one of each of his new Cocktail Series of Geums last year to investigate. As with all new perennial plants, the first year is sparse on blooms, and the past three years spring has been so cold up here in the uber North that they didn’t do much the first year in the ground. Perennials are like that though. The first year you get a peek at a few sparse blooms, the second year they are far more rewarding and the third year? To quote a past garden design client of mine – the ‘third year is the charmer’. That’s when newly incorporated to you garden perennials come into their own. That being said, I really can’t wait until next spring to be able to see what Intrinsic’s Mai Tai Geum pumps out for full bloom then.
Since Geums are super early to bloom, they were welcome color in my not-too-established beginner garden here at the new house. Compared to what I once had, it seems rather sad. At least its a clean slate though and aside from the darn orange ditch lilies that surround this house, there is only acres of grass to deal with.
Spring arrives rather late up here and summer too, but at least it eventually happens. I am impressed with the super floriferous Tequila Sunrise Geum that arrived in my surprise package from Intrinsic. The plant is a powerhouse of blooming, like a non stop bouquet that seems to have been going for at least 5 weeks now. If you’re in a warmer climate, these early bloomers will color your world for weeks on end, but not quite as long as way up here. I’m still kicking the heat on at night and its already late June! The tomatoes aren’t digging it, but Brent’s Geums surely are.
Being the flower color snob that I am when it comes to my own personal garden, at first the charm of Mai Tai Geum was lost on me. After all, it isn’t red – and never professed to be, nor is it anywhere near blue. Taste seems to change with age. We discover that there are other color of blooms and leaves that not only compliment the preferred one or two hues, but actually make them more exciting as they play off one another. That’s what happened with me and Mai Tai. I just wish he could make them bloom longer, because the soft color of these massive blooms would be riveting once my deep blue and purple delphiniums open within the next week or so. But Mai Tai is swiftly succumbing to the change of the season.
The blooms are perhaps twice the size of those on Tequila Sunrise and Alabama Slammer Geum. Even the stems are far thicker, which is good this close to Lake Huron. The wind rarely stops here, making it extremely hard to photograph flowers without them being a blur. Its not that bad in person once winter leaves and the sultry days of summer are fleeting, but that dang wind hasn’t allowed me to show you just how gorgeous Mai Tai Geum really is. I tried – every shot is blurry, thanks to the wind that moves across this open farmland.
Packed tight with multiple layers of petals, Mai Tai blooms are definitely delightful. They start off like the image above and as they age morph into softer hues, eventually arriving at a whisper of coral pink. Stiffer stems allow then to stay super erect no matter how hard the wind blows or the spring rains fall. Hail doesn’t faze any of Intrinsic’s Cocktail Series Geums by the way. Severe thunderstorms in these parts in spring commonly carry hail and arrive with almost gale force winds that can beat less stiffly stemmed or tenderly leaved plants to a pulp. Not the Geums though, they sailed through it all as if nothing ever happened.
While all of the selections in Intrinsic’s Cocktail Series are lovely, this Mai Tai is simply fabulous. Dark red stems, a neat mound of lovely cut medium green leaves and these sensational coral-peach-salmon blooms held high above the foliage. Plant them near Plum Pudding and Peachy Keen Heucheras and you’ve got a combination to die for.