Nasturtiums are the paper flower for July
My paper flower for the month of July is the nasturtium. It is also the celebratory flower for 40th wedding anniversaries and a symbol of patriotism
Nasturtiums were originally found in South America where it is believed that, grown as a perennial, they were cultivated as a salad crop and for their medicinal properties. They found their way to Spain in the 16th-century care of the conquistadors and quickly spread throughout Europe and beyond. During the Second World War, the seeds were ground as an alternative to pepper.
One of the first nasturtiums to flower in the garden
They are flowers which pack a colour punch throughout the summer. Yellow, orange and red blooms climb or cascade, framed by their distinctive leaves. As a seed to plant annually, Nasturtiums suit me and my garden down to the ground; they like poor soil and are relatively easy to grow. Perhaps the most important thing is that for me as a varifocal glasses wearer, they are good solid seeds, easy to handle and see.
As a paper flower they are also extremely satisfying to make. Having cut out the petal shapes I use watercolour paint to add similar tones which seep into the crepe and add realism of tone and texture. I colourwash green paper and cut the leaf shapes freehand so that each one is different in size and shape to the others. They are a fresh and vibrant floral arrangement.
The name nasturtium comes from the Latin “nose twister” apparently the reaction that people had on tasting the flowers. The blooms which are used more and more in the preparation and decoration of dishes are packed with goodness. They contain high levels of vitamin C and are believed to boost the immune system and attack fungal infection.
Grow your nasturtiums and harvest the flowers for the beauty of your plates and well being of your bodies. However, don’t forget to buy some non-comestible paper ones to enjoy as a decoration that, unlike the real flowers, will last long beyond the first frosts.