Not long ago, on the terrace of a restaurant near a lake, I saw nasturtiums tumbling out of urns. They were accompanied by some herbs: rosemary, thyme, lavender and so on. It reminded me of my love for nasturtium that began years ago when I had a sunny garden and grew them from seeds. It also reminded me that I had bought some packets of nasturtium seeds early this season with the intention of planting them in containers on our rooftop deck, but sadly this didn’t happen for various reasons (lots of rain and forgetfulness).
Nevertheless, nasturtiums are worth seeking out if you can find them to grow on your own next spring.
And, if you find any now in the gourmet stores or at farmers’ markets, grab them. The blossoms alone look enchanting floating in a pretty bowl of water or the whole thing as a whimsical summer flower arrangement or bouquet.
I love the delicate, soft flowers, the curvy stems, and the lily pad-shaped leaves. The only drawback for me (but perhaps not for you) is that most varieties have bright orange flowers, and I’ve never been able to do much with orange anything. And yet, when I get my hands on them, I am happy to have the cheery orange color around for a change. They do come in other colors like soft peach, scarlet, and crimson.
And last but not least, nasturtium flowers are edible (they have to be grown organically of course). They look beautiful in salads and have a slightly peppery taste (click here for a simple summer salad with nasturtium).
I also found this delightful looking recipe for nasturtium soup (which I haven’t made but would love to try).
Some basic facts about nasturtium (Tropaeolum):
- Considered an annual in most climates
- Easy to start from seeds
- Low maintenance (prefer dry soil and sun, with a little shade in high summer)
- Can be bushy or vines, and grown in the ground, pots, planters, and hanging baskets
- All parts of the plant are edible
I think sometimes that sunflowers get all the attention in August. Here’s to the unsung hero—the elegant, edible, and spirited nasturtium.