Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Apple scented geranium, Pelargonium odoratissimum

  This demure velvet textured plant with its pale green scalloped leaves and miniature white flowers is no longer in vogue. Perhaps if it were given the macro photo treatment with its flowers made to appear ten times bigger than they actually are it might stand a chance at making a comeback in this age of big, bold showy foliage plants . I have been growing it as a garden plant since the 1980's and like its superb Granny Smith apple fragrance. It is a neat border plant or path edge specimen and mine is currently nestled beneath a Gardenia florida which had become a bit leggy by showing bare stems around its base.The apple geranium has formed a rounded cushion underneath it and in summer it sends out delicate trailing stems which bear the sprays of flowers. It is quite undemanding about watering or fertilizer and never suffers from insect problems or disease.
 As it has been in continuous garden cultivation since 1724, after its introduction to horticulture from its native habitat of South Africa, one is bound to get some interesting references to it in gardening literature. So I had a step back in time to 1947 on an imaginary visit to Dorcas Brigham at Village Hill in Williamsburg, Massachusetts whose garden included a 'Scented Geranium Terrace' of some 75 different varieties. The entrance to the terrace was up a small flight of stone stairs which featured ancient black kettles supported on tripods filled with luxuriant specimens and, on a warm summer morning this was indeed a pleasant spot to be for the aroma was tantalizing and pleasing, evoking memories and increasing enthusiasm for geraniums.
2017 update: I always have a few plants available.

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