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Tropaeoleum Speciosum!

 Sounds like a Harry Potter spell, but is actually an obscure perennial relative of the nasturtian.  Although the seeds are widely sold, it has a reputation as a wilful plant, where success depends less on skill and devotion, and more on imponderables such as whether it likes you and whether the appropriate songs were sung when the seed was harvested.  Possibly you need to sacrifice a virgin. 

I have tried growing it from seed, but never had any luck (clearly all the mice that the cats bring in have far too much sexual experience), but much to my excitement, my Mum has bought me a growing specimen in a pot.   I have just planted it reverently in a shady, leaf-mould-rich spot, of the kind it is rumoured to favour.  Now to find out if it likes me... 

There was a fabulous smell in my greenhouse this evening.  All the strawberries were ripe.   I really must put more strawberry plants in there, a greenhouse entirely filled with early strawberries would be a marvelous thing.  Maybe also some basil. 



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
31st May, 2011 19:16 (UTC)
I think it's Tolkien's Letters that talk about Tropaeolum.
31st May, 2011 19:26 (UTC)
Yes, but if I remember correctly, I think there he is talking about Tropaeoleum Major, which is the common annual nasturtian

That letter is why I always call it nasturtian rather than nasturtium,( which is the latin name for mustard) Tolkien makes a good case that the 'ium' ending in a common English flower name is confusing and incorrect, but I must admit that no gardening authority seems to agree with him!
31st May, 2011 19:27 (UTC)
... Tropaeolum MAJUS even. MAJUS. Not major. Doh!
31st May, 2011 20:28 (UTC)
My copies of Letters are upstairs; and I am lazy.
31st May, 2011 20:37 (UTC)
Tut tut tut, what kind of a fan are you anyway? :-pppppppp
31st May, 2011 20:38 (UTC)
I told you - a lazy one.
31st May, 2011 20:39 (UTC)
Yet one with web access.

I consulted the college gardener to this effect: 'What do you call these things, gardener?"

"I calls them tropaeolum, sir."

"But, when you're just talking to dons?"

"I says nasturtians, sir."

"Not nasturtium?"

"No, sir; that's watercress."

And that seems to be the fact of botanical nomenclature...2

2 The Letters of JRR Tolkien, 1995 ed.: no. 148, p. 183

1st Jun, 2011 20:41 (UTC)
Good luck with the jumped-up nasturtium! Is it the red variety? I've always fancied trying one of those...
1st Jun, 2011 21:24 (UTC)
Supposedly so - though I'm not counting my chickens!
23rd Jun, 2011 17:29 (UTC)
Yesterday I purchased what I will call the Flame Nasturtium/ Tropaeoleum speciosum (that is what it says on the tag) It is to have red blooms. Today I am walking around my gardens looking for the least lethal place in which to situate it. I get the part about leafy and cool and sheltered. I am leaning toward filtered sun. May Tolkien's spirit guide my shovel.
23rd Jun, 2011 19:42 (UTC)
I hope it settles well with you!

I just went to check on mine. It seems quite happy, though it's probably a bit soon to be sure.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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