Vines and Other Climbing Plants


Nasturtiums - Tropaeolium.


Although some species of Nasturtiums are perennials (See Link To Tropaeolium) most are annuals grown for their flowers that can be single, or doubles and come in bright reds, whites, pinks and yellows. The ornamental variety of Nasturtium is often seen on sale in Garden Centres for bedding displays as it is a colourful trailing plant ideal for tumbling over rocks, tubs and baskets that can also be encouraged to climb a trellis type support. Some varieties are better climbers than others, but generally, all Nasturtiums like moist soil to flourish. One serious problem that affects all Nasturtiums is that aphids find them irresistible and plants will quickly get covered if not treated as the weather warms up and aphids start to appear. After flowering Nasturtiums will produce berries full of seed that will, if left at the end of the season, result in them self-seeding everywhere. 

The white berries of the ornamental, flowering Nasturtiums are in fact edible as are the flowers and the leaves. As a child I often ate some of the white, peppery berries, which the plants in our garden produced. However, it is not recommended to eat too many of them, because nature usually makes things that are bad for us, taste unpleasant, often giving us a burning sensation in our mouths to discourage us from eating them, although strong peppers have almost fanatical followers and people have been known to have died after eating particularly strong peppers!

Most people don't realise that although not a climber, Water Cress is actually a member of the Nasturtium family - Nasturtium Officienale Aquaticum and it is a European aquatic marsh plant that can easily become a weed when introduced to a natural water course as has happened in North America. Gardeners in this country rarely grow it any more, because it is said that it should have clean running water, but really this is only necessary from a health point of view. In times gone by, water cress was grown by the gardeners of large country houses in the patches of waste land, where the sewage from the houses was tipped, as it liked the wet conditions and benefited from all the extra nutrients in the sewage. 

The leaves of watercress may not look particularly nutritious, but they are rich in vitamins and minerals and have some medicinal qualities as they are said to alleviate severe headaches.

Most people in the U.K. simply treat Water Cress as another type of Lettuce leaf and mix it in with their salads, but other cultures use it more in cooked dishes such as is done in Asia. 

Water Cress soup can sometimes be seen on menus in restaurants and for something rather different watercress can be sautéed in butter. Perhaps the most popular way of using watercress in the U.K. is to chop it and mix it into mashed potatoes and sauces for a bit of added flavour and colour.

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