Friday, 3 August 2012

The Bee-Friendly Garden - Nasturtiums


 Nasturtiums have to be one of the cheeriest flowers in the garden.  They tangle and twine and climb and add hot spots of colour wherever you plant them.  They self-seed easily, and hopefully, come back year after year. 
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And the best thing about them, is that they are edible.  They give a nice peppery twist to salads and the flowers add a lovely hit of colour.  The name comes from the Latin 'Nasus Tortus'  meaning twisted nose which refers to the reaction of peoples faces when eating the spicy plant.

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They look pretty when brought indoors for decoration too.

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Nasturtium buds can also be pickled in place of capers, and as the summer gets hotter so does the pepper in the plants - more heat, more sun - more spice.


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Originally they are from South America - the Conquistadors brought them back to Spain in the 1500's.  If you use them as a companion plant they should hopefully draw the pests away from your precious brassicas.  The large, soft, umbrella-like leaves attract Cabbage White Butterflies to lay their eggs - not good for the Nasturtiums but good for your cabbages.


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They come in beautiful jewel colours from pale lemon to the darkest red and when the flowers die back they leave behind a seed cluster that dry on the plant and fall off.  If you check the ground around the plants you will find some of this dried seed -  save it in paperbags in a cool place -  then sow them from March to July when they will bloom until the first frosts.

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Monet was rather fond of them and planted them in the border of the pathway that led to the front door at Giverny.
Monets painting of A Girl in the Garden
They put on a better show of flowers in poor soil - last year I planted some in between the rows of potatoes but  the soil was too rich and all I got was a load of leaves.  Whereas in my front garden where the soil is thin and stoney they bloom beautifully.  They carry on flowering right through to the first frosts - but when the frosts hit them they become a slimey mess and should be removed tout suite.
 
 So, for the price of a cheap packet of seeds and  a cheerful way to get bees into the garden - plant a few Nasturtiums - I don't think you will be sorry (unless you hate orange flowers, that is).


This is what Christopher Lloyd has to say about them
"Natsurtium could be described as a hardy annual, for even though it succumbs to the first frosts of autumn you can push its seeds into the ground where you wish them to develop and they will germinate at quite low temperatures.  Self-sown Nasturtiums will often appear in mid-winter if it is mild.  Their hot colours show up in shade and they grow excellently against a shady fence or hedge, preferably in moist conditions.  They are no less satisfying when garlanding a garden rubbish heap.  Valuable plants, they provide a splash of colour towards the end of the year when the garden can look a bit tired."
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34 comments:

  1. Wow! That is a lot of comprehensive info on nastursiums. Yours are beautiful, especailly the ones on the trellis. xo Jenny

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    1. A simple plant with a big impact Jenny.

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  2. Lovely collection of picture Elaine, nasturtiums are every where on my plot but the red seem to be more prolific.Must try and seed some yellows.

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    1. The majority of mine are that orangey red with a few yellows thrown in - my favourite is the dark claret colour. Beautiful.

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  3. Love 'em and have them this year for the first time at the Priory. And (fingers crossed) no cabbage white - yet. D

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    1. I know they aren't a sophisticated plant but they suit my taste - some years I have seen them eaten practically to nothing

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  4. Lovely post! I grow lots of them on the plot but they're not what I consider to be a pretty flower, but certainly a colourful one.
    Flighty xx

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    1. What with nasturtiums and pot marigold I bet you can see your plot for miles around.

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  5. You need only once to sow Nasturtium seed and they will come back year after year. As a fact I tried all kind of colours, especially the dark ones I think are lovely. But now I have mostly orange and apricot colours. Sometimes I use the flowers in butter and make a butterroll, looks nice and tastes good. I enjoyed your story and photos very much!
    Have a good weekend!

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    1. Mine in the front garden have been very slow coming through this year - but at last the leaves are showing so we should have a good late show of flowers. Enjoy your weekend.

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  6. Your nasturtiums looks lovely Elaine. I have never been able to grow any without them being smothered in blackflies. I have now given up!

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    1. I have never had any problem with black fly (touch wood) only caterpillars.

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  7. Really interesting Elaine - believe it or not I'm not too good at growing nasturtiums (probably because I fuss over them too much!). Love the darker ones!

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    1. Nasturtiums seem to like being treated mean - I love the darker ones too.

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  8. Oh, that is a wonderful collection of photos. Love the oranginess. Sorry for my absence, will be back to blogging when the cold weather hits!

    Diane

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    1. Hi Diane, Lovely to hear from you - you seem to have been off-radar for ages. Enjoy your weekend.

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  9. They are such sun-shiny happy easy plants. Unfortunately, they're also one of the few that make me sneeze :-( so I'll enjoy your lovely photo links and Flighty's :-)

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    1. Oh dear - that's a shame - they do make a lovely spash of colour and can be quite happily neglected which suits me fine.

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  10. I think I should plant nasturtiums next year. Don't know if I could eat them, but would add great splash of color to the garden.

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    1. They are great for ground cover Ann and a great companion plant for the veggies.

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  11. Great article! I love nasturtiums too!

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    1. Thank you. In my opinion - what is there not to like!

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  12. Such a lovely post Elaine....
    Nasturtiums remind me of my child hood, some how, which is nice!
    They certainly add a splash of colour to the wonderful salad!
    Wishing you a weekend of sunshine.
    Love Mariax
    Aww thank you for kind words over on mine too!
    LoVe Maria x

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    1. Hi Maria - thank you for your comments - it has been raining here on and off all weekend so the splash of colour that Nasturtiums bring has been very welcome. Enjoy what's left of your Sunday.

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  13. Nasturtiums are an all time favorite of mine! The salad looks impressive, I will have to try that.

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  14. I didn't think they were as popular as they used to be but from the comments I have received it seems they are.

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  15. What a lovely post. This is one of my all time favorite flower. It makes me happy just reading the name 'Nasturtium' :))

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    1. I think they would look lovely in the Californian sun - but maybe it is too dry for them?

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  16. I'm a big Nasturtium fan. We eat them in salads and enjoy their jewel colours for months on end.

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    1. I love the fact theat they are so easy to grow and are so bright and cheerful.

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  17. What a lovely post Elaine, and wonderful photos. Fortunately I really like orange flowers! I want that salad...

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    1. It does look rather lovely doesn't it - much too nice to eat.

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  18. Elaine, I am very inspired by the photo of the climbing nasturtiums. Next year I think I may give them a go instead of the one's I usually plant. Love, love the vintage artwork at the end of the post.

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    1. It is such a good idea isn't it - next year I will try training them up the fence at the end of the garden - should provide a riot of colour.

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