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Plant of the Month: January 2002
Scented Geraniums
    One of the most common garden flowers is the bedding geranium, often used in containers, prized for blooming all summer. There are many flower colors and diverse kinds of hybrids, all within the genus Pelargonium, a member of the Geranium Family. Some 280 species of Pelargonium exist, nearly all African. Shrubs and herbs, they are easily propagated from cuttings, and are mostly intolerant of freezing. Many of them are scented more or less: the Scented Geraniums. The best known strongly scented species is P. tomentosum, the Peppermint Geranium. It sprawls, is fuzzy, and bears small nearly white flowers. Our illustration shows two lesser known kinds. The first (left) is 'Pungent Peppermint' which is also known as 'Bodes Peppermint' and is similar to 'Peppermint Lace'. I planted a 'Pungent Peppermint' in spring of 2000 and the winter of 2000-2001 hurt it badly but did not kill it. In May it bears profuse small flowers, white with cerise spots. The leaves are dark bluish-green, silvery-hairy, not exceptionally flavored, but pleasing to smell and elegantly dissected. It is evidently less robust and less cold-hardy than regular Peppermint Geranium.
    The second scented geranium leaf pictured below is of 'Mabel Grey' and this clone may be the most strongly scented of all. It is far more cold-hardy, grows stiffly upright to 4 feet or taller, has bright green, maple-like leaves, exceptionally lemony-smelling, not very hairy; the flowers are pink-purple. It is a cultivar of or a hybrid of Pelargonium citronellum, the Lemon Geranium. It is said to have originated around 1960 in Kenya. I delight in smelling it, and add its shredded leaves to salads.
    The best-stocked nursery I know for buying mail-order scented gernaniums, offering many dozens of different kinds, is Goodwin Creek Gardens, PO Box 83, Williams, OR, 97544
www.goodwincreekgardens.com

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Pelargonium photo
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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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