A favourite in the flower garden, as a companion plant and increasingly as an edible one … 2019 has been designated the Year of the Nasturtium.
Rather than the usual orange or yellow climbers/sprawlers, there’s a wide colour range now in tall and compact varieties.
They’re ideal for children or beginners to grow and good for wildlife, too.
Fleuroselect Home Garden Association, an international non-profit organisation, chooses a vegetable and flower each year, designed to boost seed and plant sales.
Here are my favourites …
Baby Deep Rose
This new variety is a breakthrough with its compact habit and much smaller, darker leaves and stunning, very dark pink prolific flowers, 30cm, £2.25, www.chilternseeds.co.uk
Empress of India
Masses of deep-red, semi-double flowers over purple-green leaves, 180cm, £1.60, www.plant-world-seeds.com
Mainly semi-double unusual salmon-pink blooms. Compact at 30cm, £2.35, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Jewel Cherry Rose
Semi-double blooms in shades of cherry-pink, £2.09, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
Nasturtium Edible Flowers For The Kitchen
Spicy flavour for salads or use as a garnish, £2.99, www.seedsofitaly.com
Not only do the flowers resemble orchids, they also change colour, from red with yellow splashes and veining, to fully yellow.
It reaches 30cm high, spreading or cascading to 90-120cm, £2.99, exclusive to www.thompson-morgan.co.uk
Blood-red blooms with a flecked colour pattern and peppery, watercress taste. Height 20-30cm, spread 20-30cm, £2.99, www.suttons.co.uk
Tall Mix Organic
A free flowering and rapid climber which attracts aphids away from vegetables. Height 180cm, £2.29, new to www.dobies.co.uk
Alaska Mixed, Golden Jewel, Mahogany Gleam, Peach Melba, Tall Mixed and Tom Thumbs Mixed, height 25cm-180cm, £4.99, www.johnsons-seeds.com
Red flowers to scramble up fences, 180cm, £1.95, www.higgledygarden.com
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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
Sweet peas can be sown under glass, or in a cool room in the house. Any sweet peas that were sown earlier in the autumn can now be potted on.
There is still time to finish planting fruit trees and bushes, especially raspberries and other cane fruits.Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries by cutting back all growth to an inch long stub and mulch. To extend the picking season, cut half back and leave half to give you extra early fruit.
It’s also time to prune currants – shorten the side shoots to just one bud and remove old stems from the centre of the bushes.
Leeks may well be standing ready but if a long freeze is likely you can dig some up and heel them into dug ground for easy access. Parsnips and swedes in the ground can come up when you are ready, cover with fleece or straw.
Bulbs coming up in the alpine/rock garden or in containers may benefit from overhead protection from the rain and snow. A sheet of glass or Perspex placed on piles of bricks will do the job.
Summer-flowering Dutch iris bulbs can be forced and used as cut flowers.
Cut back ornamental grasses and other perennials left for winter interest.
Winter prune apples and pears, concentrating on removing the overcrowded growth, crossing stems, and dead, damaged, or dying branches. Aim for an open centre, through which air can circulate, as this will cut the risk of pests and diseases.
Cut deciduous hedges if necessary. They can still be renovated before leaf emergence.
Ornamental vines, ivy, Virginia creeper and Boston ivy can be cut back now – keep them away from windows, doors, gutters and roof tiles.
Don’t leave houseplants on windowsills behind curtains on frosty nights.