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Please Don’t Call Them Geraniums

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Please Don’t Call Them Geraniums

July 6, 2012

Please don’t call them “geraniums.” We have to get past that.

They’re actually pelargoniums, flowering plants indigenous to South Africa. In Sweden, where gardeners have a soft spot for these warm-weather natives, pelargoniums commonly spend the long winters indoors — in greenhouses, on window sills, or being generally coddled. In Sweden, the national addiction is known as pelargonsjukan, which translates to “pelargonic disease.” We prefer to think of it as a hobby:

Photographs by Kendra Wilson, for Gardenista.

Above: In England, Kelmarsh Hall near Northampton also boasts a fine collection, including this old Regal pelargonium in the vinery.

Above: Grown as annuals in cooler climates, pelargoniums can overwinter — and bloom–indoors. The basket with the blackest flowers contains Fifth Avenue; at the back are the pale blooms of Appleblossom Rosebud. Fibrex Nurseries in the UK holds a national collection of pelargoniums, generally priced between £3-£4.

Above: A rose-lemon scent emanates from the leaves of pelargonium Radula. It has fine-petalled white with magenta flowers.

Above: There are more than a hundred varieties of pelargoniums with scented leaves, including those that smell of apricot, apple, coconut, and nutmeg.

Above: Salmon pink pelargonium on far table is Regina. In foreground: Purple pelargonium Rembrandt has Lord Bute (very dark leaves with red edging) tucked beneath it. The red and pink pelargonium is an old, unknown variety. For a wide selection of scented leaf pelargoniums at prices that range from $4.50 to $5 per pot, see Geraniaceae. In the UK, The Herb Nursery are suppliers of Lord Bute, from £2.50.

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