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Robin Parer has been growing pelargoniums—along with geraniums and erodiums—for more than 35 years. Parer, a native Australian, fell for the entire Geraniaceae family in her youth, beginning with collectible, scented-leaf pelargoniums and moving on to grow and sell more than 900 varieties through her aptly named nursery, Geraniaceae, in Marin County, California. Parer traveled to South Africa to track down her favorites in their natural habitats, from the vinelike P. gibbosumalong the country’s rocky Western Cape to the long-living P. schizopetalum, which she found in the haunting Drakensberg mountains.
This is a coastal species and vinelike scrambler with long, semi-succulent leaves and stems that grow woody with age and flower yellow-green in winter. Parer describes its night-fragrant blooms as “strange and sweet, vanilla- and clove-scented with a feral note.”