Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, June 29, 2012

At Long Last Love

Nearly 20 years ago, I found a sad looking little vine in a four inch pot at Fred Meyer.  It was grown by Log House Plants in Oregon and the tag said tropaeolum speciosum.  Having no idea what it was, I plopped it in the ground where it did nothing the first year and sent up a few leaves the second.  We moved the next year but in the meantime I looked up (in a book - imagine) this plant and decided it was pretty cool. 

Of course, after we moved, a replacement plant was nowhere to be found.

 It wasn't until a couple of years later that I discovered the wonder that was Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, WA.  Here the arborvitae hedge was bejeweled with these amazing flowers.  I bought a couple of plants put them in the best spots I could find and one even survived, bloomed, set seed, and in a day turned entirely brown and died...


Heronswood was sold, the new Heronswood lists it but it's never available.

However, Kelly and Sue at Far Reaches Farm often have it.  I bought a couple of plants there last year and following Heidi's advice, I planted them in an area where the drainage was great and lots of other greedy roots would compete for the generous supply of winter rain. 

As luck would have it, just before an amazing garden blogger came to photograph my garden I noticed that one of the plants was in full and glorious bloom - YEA!

Later, as the blooms continue on the growing ends of the vine, the older flowers fade, their calyxes turn
a lovely shade of purple and the flower is replaced with stunning blue seeds.  This nasturtium creates quite a kaleidoscope of color.  I don't have any pictures of the seed phase of the plant but you can see some great ones here.  Native to Central and South America, the plant can be "sometimes difficult to establish.  Once established, however, plants spread by underground stems and form large deep rooting tubers."  The foliage resembles a diminutive and fragile akebia quinata.

The other evening, while I was up on a ladder trimming my one and only topiary, I glanced over to a different part of the garden and saw, shimmering through the branches of a bush that had just finished blooming, some screaming orange flowers.  You guessed it, a forgotten (thought it had perished) tropaeolum speciosum had decided to live and bloom!  We all love good garden surprises and I adore this plant. 


  1. Isn't it amazing what we find at good ol'Fred Meyer every now and then? What a wonderful story of determination and luck...nice photos too! I hope that garden blogger got a shot half that good, I know that color can be difficult to capture.

  2. That garden blogger is magic with the camera! I'm sure she got a great shot!

  3. Ah - a checkered history for this plant I want so much. No wonder I did not manage to establish it. I am no gardener, lacking patience, stamina and perseverence.


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