Since the very youth of this summer and up to now in the ripe of autumn, I’ve had an eager eye on my climbing nasturtium. I’ve come to really adore these flowers. They are so vibrant and exciting, often producing a new bloom each day. The first thing I do in the morning is step into my garden to breathe in the fresh air and inhale the various scents, as many of the flowers’ essences are finest at this time of day. The nasturtium is one of plants I look the most forward to checking the progress of. Its flowers come in varying hues of turmeric, paprika and chilli, the three of which are my absolute favourite colours – so warm, passionate, intense and earthy. Occasionally I’ll find a very light nasturtium with a soft sunset blush and whisker-like lines of dark maroon, or a nasturtium bathed in a heavenly, soft, buttery gold.
I find nasturtiums to have a truly nostalgic quality that takes me back to the profound joy of childhood. Their colours are that of the bright spices I’ve had in my culture, in my kitchen, for as long as I can remember. These colours also evoke glorious summer suns and incomparably bright poppy meadows and mustard fields – the euphoric landscapes that beam through dustier memories. There is also something so authentic about the flowers’ texture, as the way they are softly crinkled is so delicate, and their lines and patterns combined with their earthy hues remind me of beautiful rusted engravings. The first time I had discovered the scent that nasturtium produces at certain times of the day, I was very surprised. It was just like that of Parma violets. The sweet, powdery, dusky scent contrasts magically to the vibrant, spicy visuals, but again it really takes me back, this time to childhood confectionery of which Parma violets were always my favourite. As nasturtium grows, its flowers sprout out delicately wild, playfully inspiring sweet imagination. When I look at them, my heart feels younger.
An interesting thing I have noticed is that the colour and scent of nasturtium flowers seem to vary in relation to season and time of season, although the different colours were planted at the same time. The first of the nasturtiums at the beginning of summer featured a good mix of hues, with a fair number of pure yellow blooms. There was a point when there was a wonderful combination of colours on the nasturtium plant and I really wanted to take a photo as this included the last pure yellow flower… but my dad decided to pick this one off to put it in the squash-flower batter to fry and eat! The nasturtiums’ scent in early summer remained very subtle and only detectable in the mornings. The heart of summer produced a bounteous blaze of fiery paprika flowers as well as many with interesting patterns and mixtures of orange and yellow, and also flowers with softer, dawn-like hues. Sometimes in the afternoons or if it had been raining, a lovely, soft honey scent would flow from the more golden flowers. As autumn progressed so did the appearance of beautiful maroon-ish red nasturtiums which I had not seen earlier in the year. To my nose it’s nasturtium of this colour that has the finest scent. Its sweetness is like that of a matured, amber honey with that soft, enchanting touch of dusky Parma violet. The aroma of this intense nasturtium also seems to be much more constant than that of brighter ones, although surprisingly, in autumn even the brighter blooms have a more constant fragrance than they did in the summer. Overall, I simply love the persevering sunniness and richness of nasturtium through the colder and duller seasonal turn.