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plant of the week: nasturtium.

NASTURTIUMS are among the best vigorous annuals of late summer, producing bright green foliage and fierce red and orange flowers to cover the scruffy, dying foliage of early summer flowers, conceal untidy corners and scramble among faded clematis and honeysuckle.

They do not require much water or feed though they do demand good light. Plant pot-grown seedlings under the leafy cover of south and west-facing plants, and their bright shoots will quickly break cover and head towards the sun. The flowers are trumpet shaped with lobed petals at the mouth.

The nasturtium originated in South America, though its botanical name, tropaeolum, was taken from the Greek and Latin battlefield words for trophy - a tree trunk festooned by the winners with the losers' bloodied helmets and shields.

The familiar garden flower, Tropaeolum majus , used to be grown up poles hung with netting, showing off its shield-shaped leaves and scarlet flowers - hence the `trophy' connection.

`Nasturtium' comes from Pliny's term for pungent plants - taken from nasus for nose and tortus to twist - and now officially applied to watercress. But nasturtiums provide similarly crisp, peppery leaves, which add a tang to salads. The seed pods can be pickled when young and taste like capers.


SUMMER JEWELS - experimental varieties of nasturtium at Unwins Seeds trial ground.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2002
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