Geraniums are originally from the mostly dry and
hot regions of South Africa. Pelargonium x hortorum, today’s commercial
upright zonal types, were first cultivated in England by the Duchess
of Beaufort in 1710.
Most of the early breeding was done in England and later, in the 19th
and 20th centuries, in Germany.
Various species of the Geraniaceae have been used for perfume, decorative
bedding plants, food flavourings, herbal tea and medicine. The scented
Pelargoniums were particularly popular in Victorian gardens. Although
they are very tender plants, Victorian gardeners would place large
pots of these varieties along garden paths so that the ladies, with
their long full skirts, would brush against them and release a delicious
scent into the air.
From Spring onwards in Crete, it is difficult to find a traditional
house which doesn't have huge displays of red, pink and white
geraniums in pots or trailing from the courtyard walls.