Monday, January 31, 2011

A World Away ― Pelargonium

This fragrant variety is called 'Old Fashioned Rose"

A World Away, a series, which begins on January 28th, continues with this scented-leaf Pelargonium (geranium), native to South Africa. It thrives in the greenhouse and loves to be outdoors in the summer garden. Lightly rubbing the deeply-cut, lacy leaves releases a delicious rose scent and takes me a world away from winter.

The late, great Adelma Grenier Simmons, founder of the now defunct Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, Connecticut, loved Scented Geraniums. She purchased a deserted farm in 1929 and began raising goats. But after a summer drought when everything died but the herbs, she believed she'd been "spoken to," hence Caprilands, which is Latin for goat lands, was born.

I was lucky to meet her in 1991 when she was still in good health and her wit was sharp. The following excerpt is from one of her many books, Breath of the Past: The Little Book of Scented Geraniums:

In the early days of the 17th century, Dutch and English sailing ships brought these sweet smelling geraniums home after their long voyages to the South African Cape. By 1870 they had gained such popularity that over 150 varieties were listed in growers catalogs. The name Pelargonium was derived from the resemblance of the seed case of the blossom to a stork's bill. Pelargonium is the Latin name for stork.

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