At the beginning of February, we had a few days of heavy snow that caused some damage to trees and shrubs in the garden. The large acacia tree, native to Australia in the centre of the garden has delicate branches which were unfortunately damaged during this bad weather and parts of the tree have been removed, but is coming up to flower in Spring. This tree is particularly popular with the greenfinch, a tame bird that often takes pollen or seeds from its branches and at times sings in the tree its delightful long twittering notes & trills.
The snow also covered most of Greece, Turkey and some of the Aegean islands, while in Athens the thickness of the snow reached about 80-85 cm and residents were advised to stay at home. An extreme snowstorm caused road disruption in the Capital leaving people to abandon their cars and walk home or take public transport.
A few pelargoniums have also been weakened a little in the harsh weather, Pelargonium vitifolium which is quite a tough plant has drooping leaves, I have given it a good dose of compost and also recycled organic matter (leaves, food scraps etc) to enrich the soil. Pelargonium quercifolium was protected by the large rosemary bushes in the garden which covers most of this plant, apart from a few long branches so it wasn’t affected that much, also two of the pelargoniums after the snow may have died but it is too early to say for sure, they may hopefully start to produce new leaves again in spring. Pelargonium hispidum & P . radens were sheltered by a wall & other plants, and so should began to recover in Spring. The only plant that is in bloom at the moment is the rose, a delicate pink shade that hasn’t stopped most of the year, a stem has been made into an arch over the steps to the garden. It is now slowly getting warmer with longer days so this should give more light to the plants which they lack during the winter months
This plant which germinated in the Autumn could possibly be a cross between Pelargonium radens and Pelargonium graveolens. The leaves are like that of P. graveolens and the flowers look something between the two, light flowers like P. radens and the shape is similar to that of P. graveolens. They are pollinated by bees so occasionally something unusual comes up.
A few pelargoniums are now flowering as the more frequent spring like days & the warming rays of the sun, also some rainfall that encourages growth. Pelargonium glutinosum, P. denticulatum, P. odoratissimum and P. inquians are the first to flower, other types now have buds so should flower quite soon such as P. quercifolium, P. scabrum and P. vitifolium. Also Many birds, butterflies and other wildlife are arriving in the garden.
The young plant Pelargonium papilionaceum is growing well and when mature it has beautiful flowers with large upper petals that resemble that of a butterfly and ranges in colour from light to dark pink.
The leaves are scented but often have an unpleasant smell which is used as a tobacco substitute, But makes a lovely garden plant because of it elegant flowers.
In mediterranean villages the use of Pelargoniums are very popular ( although not always the species kind) and are frequently found growing over balconies and in large pots, it shows how you can make your garden more attractive by adding colour and beauty to the surroundings. These pictures were taken in the villages of Spili & Mourne in Crete, Greece which have many of these colourful plants outside the churches, cafes and restaurants.
I am now working on a pelargonium species world catalog which will contain information & pictures about different pelargonium species that are available to buy from the website and also which types grow best in hanging baskets,pots,window boxes or planted in the garden.
When completed you will be able to view it on the website and also as a free download so you can look though it when you would like.
I am also still working on the scented pelargonium species book and I have now written up to 40 pages, I still have two chapters to complete and the book should be available at the end of the year.
more info http://www.pelargoniumspeciesworld.com/page20.html
Scented pelargonium leaves can be used in cooking, baking, beverages,flavouring and also in icecream,meringues,liqueur, jellies and more.
Rubbing the leaves brings out the scented fragrance before it is used for your ingredients.
The flowers and leaves are edible and can be placed on top of
cakes & desserts,
Mint,Lemon & Rose scented leaves are the most popular in food flavouring but there are many more aromas to choose from.
Chopped leaves can be added to cakes,custard,milk pudding, sweet sauces and sorbet for flavouring.
They can also be used to add flavour to tea/iced tea or homemade lemonade or smoothes.