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 graceful long-stemmed species pelargoniums can look just as stunning as any hybrid or cultivar with their long elegant flowers stalks which holds the beautiful delicate flowers and the dainty long leaf stalks that display their aromatic or decorative leaves.
P. capillare is a lovely pelargonium species with very thin petioles which are about 2-6 cm in length. The name Capillare means like thread, most likely because of its very thin leaf stems. The flowers are reddish-pink with raised patches of dark red on the upper petals also with markings of red on both the lower & upper petals, the underside is also darker in colour. This plant shows some similarities to P. tricolor but its leaves are more deeply divided and the flowers differ slightly. It is native to the South Western Cape of South Africa where it grows on mountainsides.
Pelargonium tenuicaule has long spreading rambling stems with five shallow toothed circular leaves. The flowers are cream when they first open but change to white with a dark purple smudge on every petal, The two upper petals are rounded and cupped. This plant can over time look rather bedraggled in appearance, it is native to Namibia and Namaqualand where it grows in rocky places.
Pelargonium spinosum has an unusual spine like petioles, believed to be hard debris from the continuous petioles which give it the appearance of thorns. The leaves are heart-shaped with coarse teeth and are somewhat pungent scented, they also vary in size depending on where they grow on the plant. The smaller leaves are visible on the shorter stems, while the larger are visible on the continuous petioles. The flowers are long ovate large light pink to white in colour with purple veins. It is native to the North-Western Cape and Namibia.
Pelargonium echinatum is another exquisite species, with woody spiny stems and long petioles. The leaves are grey-green ovate with 3-5 shallow lobes. The flowers are usually white but in their native habitat, pink and purple types also exist, followed by a deep red smudge on the upper petals. It is native to Northern Western areas of the Cape in dry conditions and sheltered by rocks or other shrubs, there are a few hybrid forms of this plant such as P. ‘miss Stapleton’.
Pelargonium plurisectum is a low growing shrub with thin branching stems which create a zigzag effect. The leaves are rounded and are divided into five toothed leaflets. The flowers are large orangy red or scarlet in colour with darker markings, to which the lower petals are slightly smaller than the upper petals. It has been discovered growing in Ethiopia and remains dormant for many months, it can also withstand cold conditions more than any other pelargonium.
Others include P. longicaule-has long elegant flower stems with pale pink flowers and dark green deeply divided leaves known as the butterfly bush. P. australe- long branching stems with ovate leaves and up to 12 white flowers native to Australia P. grossulariodes- long reddish stems with fruit scented kidney shaped leaves and small reddish purple flowers. P. Capitatum- long spreading branches with rose scented leaves.
Pelargonium bowkeri has a somewhat strange yet impressive flowers, white to yellowy pink or purplish veins with feather like lower petals which forms an inflorescence of up to twelve flowers which blooms in Summer during the rainy period and is scented at night. It also has a tuberous root which stores water that grows to about 3 cm across. The leaves are feathery which is why it is also known as the carrot leaved pelargonium and is native to the Eastern cape, Kwazula-Natal where it grows in grassland or in rocky areas.
Pelargonium auritum has unusual & attractive flowers, which differ in colour depending on the variation. P. auritum var. auritum has dark purple black petals with red anthers and orange pollen and P. auritum var. carneum has white to light pink petals, which form an inflorescence of up to 6 flowers. It has a caudex tuber which grows to about 3 and a half cm across and is dormant in Summer, flowering from September until January The leaves are ellipse or lance-like in shape and is native to the Western and Eastern Cape.
P. antidysentericum has white, purple or pale purple flowers with deep purple streaks on the two upper petals which are larger than the lower and has orange pollen. This plant has a caudex tuber which grows to a thickness of 14 cm and is a turnip-like in shape, becoming woodier with age, the stems range from dark to light brown and the leaves grow on clusters of short branch-lets which are kidney-shaped with rounded lobes, some have a zone. It is native to the Northern Cape where it grows on mountainsides, shrubland, ravines and close to water. It was given the name antidysentericum because it was used as a cure against dysentery.
Pelargonium praemorsum is also known as the five-fingered pelargonium which has rather unique flowers, they are white to cream in colour with the upper petals being considerably larger than the lower petals with reddish or reddish-brown streaks, forming an inflorescence of 1-2 flowers. This plant is a weedy shrub let that is dormant in Summer, it also has a trunk that grows larger as it ages with narrow semi-succulent stems. The leaves are deeply divided, kidney-shaped or rounded and have a spicy sweet-scent.
P. klinghardtense is a somewhat strange but curious pelargonium with chunky succulent knotted stems. This plant doesn’t require much water and grows in rocky deserts in full sun, the flowers are white and contain five yellowy-green sepals on long branching stems. During the summer P. klinghardtense is dormant and loses its leaves which are large and glaucous. It is native to the Northern Cape and southern Namibia, to which it was given the name “Klinghardtense” because of the location where it was first discovered on the Klinghardt mountains.
Pelargonium punctatum also has extraordinary flowers, light yellow to light beige with elongated upper petals and dark reddish dots or markings, the three smaller lower petals also have red dots which flower in winter (October to the beginning of November). It has a caudex tuber which can grow to about 8cm and simple ovate leaves. This plant is native to Southern parts of Namaqualand and the Western Karoo where it grows in shrubland, hilltops and mountain ranges. The name “punctatum” refers to the red dots on the flower petals.
The classical and elegant white flowers of the pelargonium species can look just as stunning in the garden as the other colour varieties especially when grown together to add colour and fragrance. They can also stand out against the green leaves of various shades, textures & shapes. Pelargonium odoratissimum is especially a lovely low growing plant, not only because of its delightful white flowers with tiny purple blotches on the upper petals but also for its strong apple-scented rounded velvety crinkled leaves which grow well in medium-sized pots. It is similar to the Pelargonium album which means ‘white flowers’ in Latin to which the leaf stems are semi-succulent like that of P. odoratissimum although the leaves have a more minty apple fragrance. They grow well in shady mixed with other plants in a border. View on website
Pelargonium tomentosum has attractive clusters of small white flowers with bright purple markings on the upper petals arranged on long flower stalks, the leaves have a soft velvety texture with a peppermint fragrance, they grow well as ground cover, in pots or planted in the garden but prefer shade in hot climates. It is native to the Western Cape and the leaves can be used in baking. Pictured left
Pelargonium grandifolium pictured below has attractive large creamy white flowers with dark reddish markings on the upper petals and bluish green digitate leaves with a waxy texture. It is a slightly woody shrub native to South Western and Western Cape which is ideal as a border plant in a rock garden or grown in a pot. The name grandifolium means ‘large flower’ and was brought to Kew Gardens in the late 1700s by Francis Masson during his travels to South Africa. Pictured below right.
Pelargonium abrotanifolium has small dainty white flowers and purple markings on the upper petals with lovely feathery deeply divided greyish-green leaves which are aromatic. It is native to a large area of the Western Cape towards the Eastern Cape, of South Africa. This plants name is derived from the Latin meaning ‘Southern-wood leaves’ which refers to its likeness to the leaves of Artemisia abrotanum, a shrub, also connected to the Greek goddess Artemis the goddess of the hunt. Ideal growing with other low growing plants in the garden or in a medium-sized pot, pictured below.
Pelargonium scabrum has white or pink flowers with purple markings on the upper petals. A pretty pelargonium with lemon scented rhomboidal rough leaves. The name ‘scabrum’ is derived from the Latin meaning having a raised texture. It is native to the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. Ideal for pots, fragrant gardens, rock gardens and succulent gardens. pictured below
Pelargonium mollicomum is a graceful plant with creamy white flowers and thin purple lines on the upper petals. This plant has a slightly exotic appearance with pineapple scented light green leaves, its name is derived from the Latin meaning soft hairs. It is native to the Eastern Cape and is ideal for fragrant gardens, window boxes, pots or hanging baskets. Pictured below, view on website
The flowers of Pelargonium peltatum are very attractive and can range in colour from white, pale pink to pale purple. The leaves are slightly succulent, rounded and fleshy with a light fragrance, resembling an ivy leaf. It is a trailing plant native to the Eastern and Western cape of South Africa which is ideal for hanging baskets, pots and planted next to other shrubs or trees, the leaves and petals have medical properties. pictured below
Pelargonium exstpulatum is a charming pelargonium with white flowers and dark reddish markings, the two upper petals are joined together and the lower is shaped like a spoon. The leaves have a sweet/spicy scent which are rhomboid and grey-green in colour. It is native to South Africa in the Southern Cape, in areas of the Klein Karoo and the Little Karoo. Ideal for pots or rock gardens in dry environments. pictured below
This healthy & spicy salad filled with cos lettuce, cherry tomatoes, black olives, feta, pelargonium graveolens leaves and herbs make a refreshing side dish to enjoy with your meal, The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, aromatic flavour of the herbs, as well as the tangy fruity taste of the feta and black olives creates a beneficial & nutritious dish filled with delicious vegetables and greens.
Ingredients 4 servings
125g cherry tomatoes, cut in half 1 cos lettuce, leaves removed and ripped into small pieces I red onion cut into small wedges 3-4 leaves of pelargonium graveolens, finely chopped Finely chopped herbs- basil, oregano and mint Salt and pepper to taste 80g Black olives 12g chopped Walnuts or pine nuts 180g of feta cheese, cut into small cubes A sprinkle of red wine vinegar 80g of olive oil 1 cucumber, cut into thin slices and cut in half Tinned Anchovies in olive oil optional
To prepare First remove the lettuce leaves and wash them thoroughly, drying them well with kitchen roll. Then rip the leaves and arrange them on a salad dish.
Add the cherry tomatoes, black olives and cucumber, then blend the ingredients together with your hands or with salad tongs, sprinkle over the herbs and pelargonium leaves making sure all the mixture is well blended.
Cut the feta into small cubes and place them around the dish, sprinkle with oregano followed by red wine vinegar and olive oil.
You can also choose to add a few leaves of batavia lettuce, beetroot, green peppers or mix with pasta.
Pelargonium blandfordianum is a lovely pelargonium with deeply incised grayish leaves which are fragrant with a scent of rose and white flowers with reddish blotches on the under petals. It is believed to be a hybrid between P. radula and P. quinquevulnereum. There are a few variations of this plant, ‘album’ refers to the white flowered form and ‘roseum’ to the rose pink flowered form which has a distinct rosy wormwood fragrance on the leaves.
This hybrid was developed during the early 1800s, introduced by George Spencer Churchill the Marquis of Blandford to which this plant derives its name. George Spencer was a keen and accomplished botanist while he resided at White knights park estate, a medieval manor which is now part of the university of Reading (white knights campus). Here he became widely known for has large collection of rare and exotic plants from around the globe. Various species were also transported there from the royal gardens by order of the king. George took out a loan to expand and enhance his new estate, creating many new features, such as the ‘Chantilly garden’ which contained several conservatories possibly for tropical plants, a vineyard, bridges, a wide variety of trees, a botanical garden with a wide selection of unique plants, many from America, a wilderness and many seats, fountains, grotto’s and pavilions. Later the gardens fell into decline after George Spencer became bankrupt and his creditors set fire to his house in rage, the rest of the estate was sold off. But remains of the gardens was again found after the world wars.
Pelargonium radula is a parent of the hybrid Pelargonium blandfordianum, it has decorative deeply incised leaves with a lemony rose fragrance and small pale pink flowers with dark purple markings on the upper petals. It has similar characteristics to P. graveolens which is closely related and possibly an equivalent to P. radens or a clone and also has a few forms with varied flower colours. The other parent is Pelargonium quinquevulnereum
which was also believed to have been a hybrid, grown by Mr Armstrong who lived in Hampshire, that shares some similarities to Pelargonium graveolens.
Pelargonium radens is a tall upright shrub with delicate grey green finely divided leaves and light purple flowers with darker markings on the upper petals. The fragrance of the leaves are rose lemon scented and grows well in medium to large pots often growing beside other Plants. Pelargonium graveolens has soft velvety triangular deeply incised leaves which have a somewhat rosy mint scent, a well known pelargonium since the 17th century in food and beverages, tea, potpourri and perfume. Other hybrids related to Pelargonium radens or Pelargonium graveolens is P. ‘citrosum’ which has strong citronella lemon fragrance with pale pink flowers also known as the mosquito plant which is popular in the United States & Canada and is a cultivar of P. graveolens, also said to help deter mosquitoes.
P. ‘lady plymouth’ is a hybrid from the species P. ‘graveolens’ with silver & cream leaves which are variegated with a minty scent and light purple flowers, there is also a similar cultivar known as P ‘grey lady plymouth‘ with has grey green leaves. P. ‘Cinnamon rose’ has spicy cinnamon scented leaves, and an upright growth with short branches and pale purple flowers. P. ‘Secret love’ is a eucalyptus scented leaf pelargonium with light pink flowers showing some characteristics to P. capitaum. P. x melissinum is a cross between P. crispum and P. graveolens which has large lemon balm scented deeply cut leaves and pink flowers.
P. ‘rosemint’ has mint rose scented leaves which are variegated and is used in perfumes, showing some similarities to P. lady plymouth. P. ‘westerlund’ rose lemon scented leaf close resembling that of P. graveolens.
Pelargonium graveolens L’Her Rose geranium A beautiful pelargonium which is believed to be a cross between graveolens x radens and is often used for rose oil in perfume, soap and also toothpaste. It has pale pink flowers with thin purple lines on the upper petals & each flowering stalk has about 1-7 flowers. P. Graveolens L’ Her is an up right shrub with a spreading growth often trailing along the ground and up walls to reach towards the light and prefers slightly sandy soil conditions in semi shade. It is ideal for fragrant gardens, rock gardens,or pots.
Pelargonium ranunculophyllum Horse shoe zoned pelargonium A lovely graceful pelargonium which has attractive rounded palmately lobed leaves with a reddish to deep purple zone (horse shoe mark) in the centre. The flowers are narrow and white to pink sometimes with reddish markings on the upper petals and pale orange to yellow pollen, they are arranged on long upright flowering stalks which contains about 2-3 flowers. P. ranunculophyllum is a low growing plant with long delicate stems and is smaller in size than P. alchemilloides which has similar characteristics and with thinner stems. It is native to the Eastern Cape where it grows in rocky sandstone or on mountainsides over 1000 m, best grown in part shade in pots or planted in the garden and also combined with other plants.
Pelargonium littorale Pelargonium littorale Huegel A graceful pelargonium with delicate pinkish stems and pale pink flowers with dark purple markings on the upper petals & each flowering stalk contains 2-7 flowers. P. littorale is an upright low growing shrub which grows to about 10 – 50 cm in height and has heart shaped leaves. It is native to South West Australia where it grows in coastal areas from the South Eastern corner to Geraldton in the North. The name Littorale is derived from the Latin word ‘Littorlis” meaning shore (or grows close to the shore or littoral waters. Best planted in a small to medium sized pot or planted in the garden which is partly shaded by taller plants or rock garden.
New fresh seeds of Pelargonium mollicomum, pineapple scented leaf. An attractive & graceful pelargonium with a slightly exotic appearance, it has creamy white flowers with thin purple lines on the upper petals & each flowering stalk has about 1-5 flowers. The light green rounded leaves are pineapple scented with a dark zone in the centre. P. Mollicomum is a low growing shrub which reaches to about 50 cm/20 inches in height and prefers slightly sandy soil conditions. The name “mollicomum” is derived from the Latin word meaning soft hairs. It is ideal for fragrant gardens, window boxes,hanging baskets or pots.
New fresh seeds Pelargonium scabrum A pretty pelargonium with strong lemon scented rhomboidal shaped leaves and white flowers.
Pelargonium littorale (left) is a low growing upright and delicate shrub which is similar to that of Pelargonium capitatum rose scented leaf and pelargonium grossularioides fruit scented leaf.. The flowers are pale pink with darker markers and each flowering stalk contains 2- 7 flowers with long and ovate sepals, the leaves can range from oval, heart shaped, or orbicular. P. littorale grows from about 10 to 50 cm’s in height and is covered with glandular hairs, green to pinkish stems, classified under the section Peristera, as a subspecies (pelargonium littorale- Huegel subsp. Littorale)
This plant is native to South West Australia mostly in coastal areas from the South Eastern corner to the Geraldton sand plains in the north.. Which is why it was named Littorale from the Latin word ‘littoralis’ meaning shore (or grows close to the shore or littoral waters) It can also occur in Victoria and areas of South Australia. South Western Australia is a eco zone with a Mediterranean like climate which has dry and hot summers and wet winters know as the botanical province which consists of a wide range of plant and animal life as well as woodlands, forests and eco areas of scrub land. This region also has honey possums which forage on flowering shrubs for nectar and pollen. Western bush wallabies and short tailed scrub wallabies.
Pelargonium helmsii (carolin) also known as the Alpine storks bill is native to bio-regions of victoria and New South Wales in mountainous areas including – Northern fall (highlands), Victorian alps and the snowy mountains, it has dark pink flowers with darker markings and oblong sepals with each flowering stalk containing up to 5-12 flowers. It is listed as vulnerable. Pelargonium renifolium Swinbourne is also native to South Australia and has very small light pink flowers and a greater sprawling growth.
Pelargonium rodneyanum (below) also called the Magenta storks bill is native to specific areas of Australia including New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Where is grows on rocky hillsides, sclerophyll forests, woodlands and shrub land. It has striking dark pink flowers with darker pink markings of the upper petals, on a long delicate flower stalk which contains up to seven flowers. The leaves are soft, light to dark green with shallow lobes and oval to narrow ovate in shape, it grows to about 45 cm’s in height with short stems and also produces brown tuberous roots.
This plant was named after Admiral George Rodney 1718-1792, a British Naval officer, who travelled along with Captain James Cook as head scientist exploring New Zealand and Australia collecting plant specimens for the gardens of Kew. Pelargonium rodneyanum is also grown as a garden plant in pots, flower beds or rock gardens because of its colourful flowers. It grows well in slightly acidic soil which has good drainage and is also a popular plant for ground cover.
Pelargonium alchemilloides (below) also known as the lady’s mantle-leaved pelargonium or Wildemaliva is native to a wide area of South Africa apart from the Northern Cape and grows in moist lowland regions usually in clay and loam soil conditions. It has also been naturalised in temperate coastal areas of South-Western, Western Australia where it grows in shrublands, grasslands and woodlands. This plant has a rambling growth and is low growing, it adapts well to hot and dry environments with much rainfall during the winter period and has an underground tuber.
The flowers can range in colour from dark pink, yellow or white with darker markings and each flowering stalk contains about 3 to 6 flowers. The leaves are rounded or oval in shape with a purplish brown horseshoe zone in the centre, lobed with hairs which gives the impression of a silky texture. The name alchemilloides refers to the plant Alchemilla (lady’s mantle) which bears some resemblance to this pelargonium, it is a perennial with green to yellow flowers and fan shaped leaves under the Rosaceae family to which the tea is used for medicinal purposes.
Pelargonium australe (below) is endemic to the whole of Australia apart from the Northern territory as well as eastern Tasmania and New Zealand, where it is also known by the name of the native storks bill.. It has white to light pink flowers and darker markings on the upper petals, arranged on long flower stalks which contains up to 12 flowers.
The leaves are slightly scented, hairy & rounded/ or oval with shallow lobes and the plant as a whole grows to about 30 cm’s in height, in its native habitat it grows in rocky areas, on cliffs by the coast, or in sand dunes. The name australe means Southern possibly meaning the southern hemisphere. The stems of this plant are not so succulent like than that of P.drummondii, while the leaves, also show some similarities to P. capitatum but do not have rose scented leaves.
Pelargonium drummondii (below) shares some similarities to Pelargonium australe, but the stems are more branching with smaller flowers and thinner stems and also P. capitatum which grows all over the South West of Australia was original brought over by early colonists from Britain.
It is an upright shrub which grows to about 10 to 40 cm’s in height with succulent like leaves which are dark green & heart shaped. The flowers are white or pale pink usually with darker markings and each flowing stalk contains about 4 to 7 flowers. It is native to coastal areas of South West Australia and also amongst granitic rocks on sloping ground, hills or small mountains. This plant was given the name drummondii after James Drummond a Scottish gardener and botanist who became an early setter and collector of newly discovered plants in Australia.
Pelargonium inodorum (below) which also goes by the name of the wild pelargonium or storks bill is an annual which is native to over a large area of New South Wales where it grows in forests, woodlands, or grassy and rocky areas and also in Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.
The flowers are white or pink with darker markings of dark pink or purple and each flowering stalk contains about 3-14 flowers with oval or heart shaped leaves that are covered in short hairs. The flowers are small and are just a little larger in size than the sepals. The name inodorum means unscented possibly referring to the flowers as it is believed to have slightly aromatic leaves.
Pelargonium Frutetorum has lovely light salmon pink flowers consisting of three large lower petals (ovate) that bend downwards and two upper petals with reddish orange markings on 10-15 mm flower stalks, containing 7 stamens. The leaves have a circular deep purplish brown zone in the centre with five lobes and rounded. This plant is a shrubby scrambling species that is native to the Eastern Cape, South Africa and was given its name Frutetorum because of its shrub like appearance, it is of the Ciconium section and is believed to have been first discovered by the English naturalist & artist William John Burchell during his travels to South Africa in the 1800s but this is not certain. Many hybrids have been created from this plant because of its appealing flowers, decorative leaves and its ability to grow well in the shade. P. Frutetorum shows some likeness to P. mutlibracteatum but is more sturdy and has more a pronounced zone on the leaves