Fans of pelargoniums will enjoy a visit to The National Trust at Stourhead, near Mere, where 103 varieties from its historical collection have gone on show by the date they were first introduced to England.

Stourhead’s connection to the plant began with Sir Richard Colt Hoare, third owner of Stourhead, who was an avid pelargonium collector. By 1821 he owned 600 varieties, many of which he had cultivated himself. Colt Hoare’s collection was considered the best in the world, and there was even a pelargonium section named in his honour: Hoarea.

The collection disappeared after Colt Hoare died but the current display has been pieced back together over the past 25 years, by the garden team at Stourhead, based on the varieties he had originally, although not all of it could be recreated as some varieties no longer exist.

Head gardener Mihaela Hoticosaid: “The collection begins with pelargonium triste, the very first pelargonium that we know ofto be introduced to England from South Africa in 1632, and finishes in 1940 with the pelargonium Joy Lucille. The whole way down the glass house is awash with pastel pinks, reds and whites. One of Richard Colt Hoare’s very own creations is also on display, Pelargonium x ignescens, from 1821, cultivated right here at Stourhead.

"We also have a selection of geophytic pelargoniums. Geophytes are some of the most spectacular flowers in the species, and many of the pelargoniums in the Hoarea section are geophytic. Extra special care is taken to ensure we do not lose any species in our collection by taking and cultivating cuttings from every plant each year. Our hope for the future is to continue sourcing additional varieties which are relevant to our collection.”

Visitors can enjoy the pelargoniums in the glass house of the Walled Garden between now and the end of autumn. The garden and park is open between 9am and 5pm.Visit for more information.