[IGS] What are angels?

Esther ,

I like the fancy flowering pelargoniums too.  A friend just gave me a cutting
of Mr. Wren, and I'm watching over it anxiously, hoping that it will take.  I
have a couple of the painted ladies, but my favorite is the birds eggs where
the flowers have little bitsy spots on the petals like a birds egg.  I got a
cutting of Jays Golden Birds Egg last year and it's growing well, so I'm
hoping for a bloom so I can see what it actually looks like this spring.  The
leaves are a beautiful golden green, so the bloom is just going to be icing on
the cake.

Angels are my most recent addiction, and I have more of them than anything
else at this point.  Angels are a bit of a mystery in that their ancestry
isn't well documented.  In the 1800s a plant called "Angeline" appeared in
catalogs and was described as a "compact regal".  That plant is no longer in
existence, but one school of thought is that our angels are derived from that
plant or its offspring which they believe to have been crossed with a crispum.
The other theory I have found written up is that a regal "The Shah" was
crossed with a crispum, and that resulted in the angels.  The cover of the
Spring, 1997 (Volume 45) GATW is an angel.  It's one of Jay Kapac's
archangels, called Michael.  (There's also Rafael and Gabriel in that series,
and all three are just stunning)  In general, angels are a smaller, compact
plant with full size flowers.  In some of the plants the foliage is lightly
lemon scented.  Flowers range from almost white to very dark velvety purple
with shades of pinks, lavenders, mauves and purples between.  Some have
splotches, edging, ruffles, etc.

In the early 1900s a London schoolteacher, Arthur Langley Smith, started
hybridizing angels with great success.  Catford Belle is one of his creations,
and it was released around 1935 and is still going strong.  He is oftentimes
referred to as the Father of the Angels.

Angels can be grown in pots, and do better indoors than most other
pelargoniums as long as they get sufficient light.  They were quite popular as
windowsill plants and windowbox plants because of their relatively small plant
size in contrast to their flower size.  They can also be planted directly in
the ground, whereupon they will get much larger.  My own collection is in
pots.  I start them in 4" and move them up to 6" pots and keep them at that
size.  Some I let grow in a small bush format, others I have trimmed into tree
shaped topiaries.  For our show this year I'm working on planting angels into
larger pots that will fill in two grapevine angels that stand about 2' tall.
Some varieties also do very well as hanging baskets.  You sort of have to work
with the natural tendency of the plant.  This year I plan to put some in along
the edge of the driveway and see how they do in the ground.  I've seen them in
gardens where they got to be about 3" across and about as high.    I'm hoping
for a sort of miniature hedge that will provide an abundance of cuttings.

If you have room to add a couple angels to your collection, Logees carries a
few varieties if you ever place orders with their company.  On the east coast,
Faye Brawner has a wonderful collection, and I believe could ship by mail.  On
the west coast, Robin Parer also has a wonderful collection, and you could ask
her if she could ship by mail.

Best of luck.


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