Nasturtiums were the first plants I grew in my own patch of garden, aged four.  The seeds survived being dug up several times ‘to see if they’re growing yet’.  They sent out strong shoots which scrambled up into the low branches of the old lilac tree and produced strange, bird beak buds that opened into extravagant flowers in paint box colours.

Nasturtiums inspired my lifelong fascination with gardens and all that grows in them.  They are an ideal plant for small, curious but impatient gardeners; chunky seeds that are easy to handle, speedy growth, bold colours, fascinating details when you look closer.  The flowers attract bumblebees – appealingly furry and slow moving, but unlikely to sting unless seriously mistreated. The leaves attract aphids, which are less welcome, but they in turn attract pretty, predatory ladybirds, offering an early introduction to natural food chains.

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nasturtium close

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Children are tuned to notice small things, to explore and to wonder, vital skills for making sense of the world that are often neglected by grown-ups in a hurry.  Curiosity is easily dampened but easily inspired.  Sometimes all it takes is a packet of seeds.

(This nasturtium is flowering in one of our Paris window-boxes.  Should you be curious to know, the little insect on the flower in the picture is a parasitic wasp, helping to keep the plants free of aphids.)

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Inspiration.”