Wow, are we late this year. I've just checked back to last year's June GBD post and the first photo was plumbago in full bloom. But today, although it's healthy and green,there's not a bud in sight. Hardly surprising when the temperature outside is 16°C (61°F) at 3pm and it's been raining almost uninterruptedly for the last ten weeks. They say it's all due to La Nina, but whatever it is, it's playing havoc on the balcony, with everything doing well but weeks behind schedule. We harvested the first japanese loquats from the trees in the condominium garden around about May 20 last year too, and they were delicious. This year they finally ripened this week and were completely insipid.
I didn't record temperatures last year and now wish I had. But I remember that we were already complaining about the heat and humidity. Today I'm sitting here in a woolly jumper. I don't remember that ever happening - according to the BBC's average temperatures it should be anywhere between 27-35° C (81-95°C). There are advantages of course - the main one being that I'm not complaining about the heat and humidity. But there have been noticeably fewer pests this year. Not only has red spider mite been far less of a problem, but whereas this time last year the caterpillarium was already in full swing, this year I've hardly noticed any caterpillars at all (not that that's necessarily a good thing - it also means no butterflies).
When I realised that Gardener's Bloom Day had come around again, I panicked. Apart from plants like pelargoniums and surfinia which I've amply blogged about recently, there's nothing at all impressive in bloom. Or so I thought - then I went out and found that the nasturtiums had bloomed overnight. never mind that they were in May's post last year. This year they're my flower for June.
Nasturtiums like sun - which explains why they're so late this year. They are originally from South America and give the most flowers if they're planted in poor soil - very poor soil. Monty Don suggests planting them in the dust you sweep up from the garden path - check out the video link on this page from the BBC to see why.
Apart from the great flowers they give, they're also edible - add the young leaves to salads for a peppery taste a bit like rocket, or use the young seeds as a substitute for capers. The leaves are also good for you as they contain Vitamin C and iron. But if you want to grow them specifically for food, plant in rich soil - you won't get so many flowers but you'll have a lot more leaves. For a salad recipe see here, or here you'll find a recipe which uses the flowers.
They also have antiseptic properties, and you can make a tisane out of the flowers and leaves which is supposed to be useful against bronchitis.