Emma Townshend: 'An impressive delivery of geraniums has renewed my faith in mail order plants'

So look, I'm not the biggest orderer of seeds and small plants. A lot of my garden is big mature leaves, and frankly a known danger zone for container planting, which starts off well and tends to wither away by the end of summer as I lose the requisite passion for daily watering. But this year I was tempted by one thing only: Sweet Williams. I am a massive sucker for a Sweet William: there is no perfume I love more. Why can't Stella McCartney put that in a bottle?

Anyway, I saw an offer to order a bunch of them, to be raised from plugs. Now, for some reason, I'd never ordered plugs before, but I imagined I'd be receiving, for my £16, 10 thumb-sized plants. Maybe even slightly bigger.

Dream on, Townshend. When the box arrived, I was quite shocked. The totally trusty old household brand name that had shipped out the plants looked immediately doubtful in my eyes. It was only a bit bigger than a Jiffy bag. And the "plug plants" were more like recently germinated seedlings. I felt so disappointed. My dreams of picking my own Sweet Williams (which has so far happened only once in my life, the year I had an allotment) went back to the drawing board.

So by the start of April, I thought I'd sworn off postal plant purchases full stop. But then Mark Diacono, who has often featured in these pages, sent me a tempting email. In fact, all his subscribers at Otter Farm received this missive, which contained the crucial words "scented geraniums". Now, scented geraniums are my weakness. Perhaps that should be another of my weaknesses. I'd have more if I had a greenhouse to overwinter them in, but at present the tender varieties live in the sitting-room through December frosts, keenly limiting numbers.

So, Mark's Otter Farm nursery was promising to send another lot of small plants, and I decided to give it a go, hoping that a friend wouldn't let me down – not that I relied on any favours, submitting my order anonymously online and crossing my fingers tightly.

Though they took only five days to arrive, I think I was rather mystified when they turned up. To start with, the gigantic box. Gigantic. Eight plants? Surely they've sent me the wrong thing, I thought. But they hadn't.

When opened, the enormous container contained eight fragrant bunched plants, each in an actual plastic pot. The proper handfuls of soil at their roots were damp, the pots were wrapped in slightly damp newspaper then in plastic, and the whole box left my hall heavy with perfume.

But if the packing pleased me, the plants delighted me more. All were bushy and healthy, with 10 or 20 leaves, and the choice of varieties was, as we used to say in the playground when I was in Class 4, proper skill.

"Orange Fizz" is one of the most citrussy of geraniums, giving a totally Tango scent to the air. Also "excellent in cocktails", as Mark noted in a helpful email follow-up. Another citrus came in the form of "Pink capitatum", with leaves fragranced like lime, and which will eventually have pretty mauve-pink flowers.

The box also brought me "Lady Plymouth", of whom I am a big fan, and not just for her reet posh name: the fragrance is dubbed "rose mint", and the Lady has the added benefit of variegated leaves, with a little gold border to grey-green centres. Told you she was posh.

Finally, Mark included "Rose of Attar", the most vigorous grower in the box. This one has the perfume to beat all others, that rosy-bosy old-lady thing that Stella McCartney does so well.

Each geranium had such a good little set of roots that I've had to do little to get them established (unlike the Sweet Williams, which are still struggling to find a way in the world, only just beginning to put on new leaves despite arriving weeks before the Otter Farm plants). And off they go into the world. It's enough to make you buy a greenhouse.

Otter Farm's Scented Geranium collection of four select varieties is £10 from shop.otterfarm.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Key stage 3 and 4 Teacher requi...

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

NQT Secondary Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence