I planted my first packet of nasturtium seeds when I was about 12 years old.
I don't recall if I had selected the seeds and paid for them from my allowance, or if my father brought them home.
I planted the seeds in what had once been a play area on the north side of our small house, a spot that was also open to mid-morning sunshine.
The seeds germinated and soon the scarlet blooms appeared on long slender stems.
I planted nasturtiums there each year until I married and moved away.
Nasturtiums became a staple of my flower gardens.
I loved the variety 'Alaska' with its compact plants and white-splotched leaves.
'Empress of India' was a joy with smaller blue-green leaves, a trailing habit and small blooms of deepest red.
I had every expectation that nasturtiums would flourish in a porch planter in Kentucky.
I tucked in seeds of several varieties: 'Moonlight,' 'Whirlybird.' Dwarf Jewel--if they bothered to germinate they were pathetically feeble.
I had hopes one summer that there might be a few blossoms, only to discover on a hot July morning that a visiting cabbage worm had destroyed the plants, leaf and bud.
This spring I bought a 4-pack of nasturtium starts, coddled them indoors on the pantry windowsill until warm weather moved in to stay.
I tucked them into a big pot, poked in sticks to discourage cultivation by cats, and more or less resigned myself to another failure.
The nasturtiums grew, producing long loops of green vine. I wound them around a wicker support, watered, turned them toward the sun.
I was rewarded with a continuous parade of orange-red blooms.
By late August the plants had seen their best days, They were leggy, tired, but still producing flowers.
I snipped and propped, reluctant to let them go.
Discovering a two year old packet of seed, I tucked a few in amongst the weary stems.
By mid September I had vigorous plants, but wondered if frost would hold off long enough for blooms.
In this strange mild autumn there was no threat of frost until last week, and the first tiny buds swelled and opened.
On two chilly nights I swaddled the pot in an old tablecloth.
A week ago the forecast was for overnight temperatures of 29 F.
I lugged the pot through the house, into the sun room.
The best I can give it is a spot in one of the east windows.
Predictably, the lower leaves are turning yellow.
Still, for perhaps a week or two more I can enjoy a profusion of blooms, extending summer and having the joy of viewing my nasturtiums close by.