The National Trust at Stourhead near Mere is exhibiting 103 varieties from its historical pelargonium collection by the date they were first introduced to England.

Stourhead’s connection to pelargoniums 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. Sadly, the collection disappeared after Colt Hoare died.

Today’s display has been pieced back together over the past 25 years, by the garden team at Stourhead, based on the varieties Colt Hoare originally had.

Not all of it could be recreated as some varieties no longer exist.

Stourhead gardener Mihaela Hotico said: “The collection begins with Pelargonium triste, the very first pelargonium (that we know of) to 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.

“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. Visit: