Nasturtiums were not part of the original garden palette here. The garden consisted of typical 1960s shrub choices (lilac, rhododendron, hebe, camellia), and perennials such as a day lily, hesperanthus and self-seeded marjoram. The nasturtiums arrived with us in pots from the previous house. There were one or two little plants grown as cut-and-come-again additions for salads and as little pots of cheer to be placed around the house during its refurbishment.
We wanted to save as many of the original garden plants as possible. This included naturally occurring local plants such as red and pink campions and evening primrose. Many valuable pollinating plants had been brought from the previous house. Storing ‘saved’ plants in the turmoil of the garden was not straighforward.
As so much of the garden was churned up, it was essential to plant fast growing pollinator plants (to feed visiting insects), until a time when the ‘saved’ and new perennials could be planted. Additional nasturtiums were planted in selected pots around the top of the garden to provide food for the pollinators.
They often went on the rampage.
It was so tempting to allow them to takeover the whole garden, but they could suffocate many naturalised plants and were damaging fruit bushes – they had to be calmed.
During dry conditions some insects are drawn to the sweet fluids in the soft parts of the flowers. Their destructive actions can be halted by ants which also collect the sap, but do not destroy the plant. Not everything in the garden is peaceful and lovely. There are battles with winners and losers, the balance of nature is always precious and fragile.
Nasturtiums may be tough, but blackfly and greenfly suck out the juices from growing tips. This effectively cuts off supplies to the plant and the flower dies, followed by leaves and stems.
When the ground had to be completely cleared (Spring 2018), for contractors to landscape it into a safer, more accessible garden, the previous year’s nasturtiums had long gone. Following the upheaval and heavy frosts, it was assumed that they would be unlikely to return. However in early June little miracles began to appear. In the barren slate chipped lower area of the garden, tiny umbrellas of green poked their heads out between the slate and made their way out into the open air.
The plants were not in the most convenient of positions (that was nothing new), but they were to be allowed to grow to produce their flowers for the bees, hoverflies and other pollen and nectar collectors.
A few seedlings were removed from places where they were in danger of being trodden upon. Surprisingly, those in the barren slate made better progress than many of those with their feet in the soil.
Nasturtiums are vibrant in hue, determined, cheeky, full of vigour, have a sweet peppery fragrance, zingy taste and are an absolute uplift for the senses. Love them!