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
The young plant Pelargonium tongaense, native to areas of Natal in South Africa is now flowering, it has up to 10 brightly coloured red flowers on each flowering stalk that can attract butterflies and other insects, it also has light green Triangular lobed leaves.
The young plant of Pelargonium quinquelobatum is now coming up to flower, it has greenish blue leaves and yellowish green flowers and is native to Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. P. Tongaense is also about to flower which has red petals that attract butterflies.
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.
P. curviandrum is another rare pelargonium, it is a geophyte ( remains dormant in Summer) with a woody tuber that is long or circular in form. The leaves are positioned low down and are large & oval in shape with an upright flower stem which contains white or cream flowers with purple markings on the upper petals, this plant is native to areas of the Little Karoo in the Southern Cape mainly in mountains.
Many Pelargoniums are now flowering in Springtime among other lovely plants in the garden, flowers of pinks, purples, oranges and fresh green foliage all add beauty to the surroundings. Scented pelargoniums of P. denticulatum, P. odoratissmum, P. quercifolium and Vitifolium have now started to flower.
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.