[From the Greek for Stork, in reference to the beak-like seed-pod.]
Under the article Geranium, the principal distinctions between Geranium proper and Pelargonium are given. The plants of both genera are popularly called by the same name - Geranium. There are many species in cultivation, but these have become so mixed by hybridizing and crossing, that in many cases their identity is obscured. Pelargonium peltatum, is the trailing Ivy-leaved Geranium; P. zonale, is the parent of all the Horse-shoe Geraniums; P. inquinans, is probably the original of the scarlet varieties; P. capitatum, is the popular Rose-Geranium. In the present place we treat them only as florists varieties, without reference to a botanical nomenclature.
The Common Scarlet Geranium is familiar to us all, and is deservedly a general favorite. Cowper speaks of it, in describing the inhabitants of the green-house:-
Her crimson honours."
Some of the varieties are quite fragrant and emit an agreeable odor, when lightly rubbed with the finger; and a person approaching a Geranium, almost mechanically rubs or plucks a leaf for a perfume; or with some species, for its soft velvety surface.
"And genteel Geranium Willi a leaf for all that come," seldom fails of obtaining notice and admiration, notwithstanding it may be surrounded by the most curious exotics. Nothing can exceed the beauty and brilliancy of a collection of Dwarf Scarlet Geraniums, either in beds, or in pots. If removed into a warm conservatory in November and a little water given them until the middle of December, when they commence growing, they will flower from January until April. They are easily raised from cuttings, which, if started in February, will make good plants for summer planting.
In this section the leaves are margined with white and yellow, the flowers being pink, carmine, and scarlet. They are always comparatively rare, being somewhat difficult of propagation, though equally hardy with the common scarlet sorts when once in a state of growth. For striking effect in the flower-garden, parlor, or conservatory, they are unequalled. Alma, scarlet flower, leaves white margined; Bijou, scarlet-crimson flowers, silvery edged leaves; brilliant, deep scarlet, free-flowering, very effective; Fairy Nymyh, silver foliage, bright scarlet flowers; Golden Chain, golden variegated foliage, cerise flowers; Mountain of Snow, pure white margin, extra fine; Golden Attraction, red zone, sulphur margin; Silver Chain, silver-edged foliage, rose flowers.
The following are a few of the named varieties; Crystal Palace, dwarf-scarlet, extra; Christina, pink, extra fine; Stella Nosegay, dark scarlet; Bouquet, large truss, bright scarlet; Pretty Susan, rosy salmon; Mary Say, large carmine; Mad. Vaucher, pure white, extra; Lucy, crimson, fine bedder; Ball of Fire, brilliant scarlet; Sheen Rival, cerise scarlet; Galanthaeflora, white, crimson disc.; Gen. Williams, carmine-scarlet; Ossian, violet, pure, new; Fire King ' dwarf-scarlet; Paul L' Abbe, rosy salmon; Pauline, crimson-scarlet; Cheapstead Beauty, carmine, extra; Hender-sonii, pure white; Model Nosegay, crimson-scarlet; Helen Iindsey, deep rose.
New hybrid sorts appear every year. The greatest difficulty is, to know what varieties out of the multitude to select for bedding. The scarlets are the most effective. An oval bed of these, with the tallest sorts in the middle and the lowest growing in front, margined with a dwarf silver-edged variety, is a grand sight when in full bloom, as they will be from June to November, if properly cared for and well supplied with water if the season is dry. A circular bed, or any fanciful shape, will look well; but an edging of turf or box is necessary to give a complete finish to these groups; or, if planted in beds on a fine lawn, it will be an improvement.
There are many other kinds of Pelargonium, but they are not suitable for cultivation in the garden, but splendid for the green-house or conservatory, in their almost endless varieties, where they flower profusely from March to June. Some of the sweet-scented species and varieties are desirable for the sake of their delightful fragrance, rather than for their flowers. When planted out, they make a vigorous growth, if not nipped to death by the passers by. I was deeply affected in a recent visit to our State's prison as I passed through the workshops. I noticed a sweet-scented Geranium in a window by the work bench of one of the unfortunate workman. The plant was of considerable size, but it bad been so often robbed of its leaves that there were none on the bush much larger than my finger nail. I took the liberty to help myself to one of these small leaves. It is against the regulations of the prison to hold any conversation with the prisoners; but in this case, the owner of the plant, by the expression of his countenance, gave me to understand, more forcibly than he could in words, the satisfaction he felt, in the notice I took of his plant. He looked me full in the face, with an air of thankfulness and pleasure, to find that there was one in the world to sympathize with him in his love for this solitary plant, which, no doubt, was a great solace to him in his confinement. I thought how terrible must be, the punishment to one who has a taste for these beautiful creations of God, to be restrained from the liberty of roaming abroad to view them in all their delightful variety and profusion. "Poor prisoner," I inwardly exclaimed, "were it not for your crimes and the sins of others, earth would indeed be a paradise once more."
A bouquet can hardly be called complete without a few leaves of the Rose-Geranium. There are quite a number of varieties of the sweet-scented Geranium, such as the rose, lemon, musks and many others.