Sunday, April 12, 2015

Coming Up Roses

Or pelargoniums, rather, but this is actually the historic variety 'Attar of Roses' which, as the name implies, smells strongly of rose water.

Pelargonium 'Attar of Roses'

I have had this plant for about a year and it has been vigorous and largely carefree, apart from being very thirsty. However, unlike for regular pelargoniums or "geraniums", flowering seems to be an intensely seasonal affair for this cultivar. It was in full bloom when I bought it around this time last year but finished flowering by mid-June and did not produce a single new flower bud until a few weeks ago, when it began to sprout lots. Scented pelargoniums like 'Attar of Roses' are quite important in the perfume and cosmetics industry, and apparently in Tunisia they are also used to make a fragrant water used in cooking, similar to rose water and orange blossom water. Yotam Ottolenghi, the London-based Israeli chef whose gorgeously illustrated cook books seem to have been appearing in every fashionable shop for the past couple of years - and the recipes, while sometimes quite intricate, really are very cool - is evidently a fan; in Plenty More he has a recipe for "Grilled Stone Fruits with Lemon Geranium Water" and writes, "so before I am accused of introducing yet another impossible-to-find ingredient, I would like to say that lemon geranium water is a wonderfully exotic scented liquid that is extremely difficult to find anywhere but in Tunisia, where I first came across it" (Ottolenghi 302). So of course now I want to try it.


Ottolenghi, Yotam. Plenty More. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014.


  1. I have had this pelargonium for years, never setting eyes on a flower! Lemon geranium seems interesting.

    1. Interesting... Maybe it needs more of a change in day length or temperature than it gets in southern India?

  2. Lemon geranium seems interesting.


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