Gently rub the leaves of any scented geranium (Pelargonium) plant and you will be immediately transported to the summer garden as a sensual fragrance fills the air and clings to your fingertips! The scented geranium gets its scent from volatile oils in the leaves rather than from the small and somewhat insignificant flowers that appear periodically. The slightest pressure upon the leaves will release a wonderful scent…lemon, rose, apple, chocolate are more common varieties. The leaves may be steeped in warm water or cream or to scent and flavor sugar with its delicate scent.
If you have patience and vision, growing a topiary standard will provide you with many hours of pleasure. Topiaries are plants that have been ‘trained’ by staking and pruning to grow a tree-like plant on a single, thickened stem, which becomes the ‘trunk’. The branching, leafy portion of the plant is pruned and clipped into a specific shape, sometimes ornate and fanciful or single or multiple ‘balls’. Topiaries often require twelve or more months to realize their intended form. Always start with a healthy plant with a straight central stem. By clipping, pruning and staking, your topiary will begin to develop. Scented geraniums will thrive indoors on a windowsill or outside on a porch (with temps above freezing!) with a half-day or more of sunlight.
Rosemary, lavender, santolina, bay are a few herb plants that are easily trained as topiary standards. If you love the look of a formal topiary standard, but don’t have the patience to start one yourself, they’re often found at better nurseries and garden specialty stores.