Scented geraniums (actually, they are Pelargoniums) will gladly stand and pose in your window garden, but why not put them to work? A few crushed leaves of the rose-scented p. graveolens, for instance, will make the nighttime bathing experience a fragrant, calming one. Float a sprig of p. crispum (I say “sprig” because crispum’s leaves are tiny) in a cup of hot tea to infuse it with a rich, lemony aroma. Crispum will scent a pitcher of iced tea, too. Just boil a good-sized sprig in the water you pour over your tea bags, and chill. Insomniacs will find that a pillow sachet, if filled with the dried leaves of p. ‘Lavender Lad,’ can slow the heart-rate and induce sleep.
My favorite time to use these paragons of perfume is during the “Happy Hour.” The leaves are indispensible for fancy cocktails. Here are two recipes from the Kevin Lee Jacobs School of Mixology:
Rose- or Lemon-Scented Daiquiris
Make a simple sugar syrup from two parts sugar and one part water. Boil until the sugar has completely dissolved, and then add three to five rose- or lemon-scented pelargonium leaves or sprigs. Cool completely before use.
Next, pour into a shaker 1 1/2 oz light rum, 3/4 oz lime juice, and 1/4 oz of your scented sugar syrup. Add ice cubes, shake well, strain and enjoy in a martini glass.
‘Lavender Lad’ Martini
Make the sugar syrup described earlier, using three to five leaves of ‘Lavender Lad.’ Combine 1 1/2 oz vodka, 1/2 oz Cointreau and 1/4 oz (or more) scented sugar syrup. Add ice cubes, shake, strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.
Culture. Scented pelargoniums are extremely easy to grow. Give them clay pots, full sun, and any all-purpose plant food. They are not fussy about soil; mine grow in equal parts leaf mold, garden soil and sand (or perite). Frequent pruning is required to keep them house-sized — they are rapid growers.
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