Every year they surprise me. They appear dormant for days in the tangles of green shoots. In one moment when I’m not looking they burst into bloom, a cluster of yellow day lilies alongside a thick row of orange tiger lilies. It’s beautiful. It’s summer in Mayberry.
But the flowers holding my attention live in ceramic planters. My dad, who loves a good plant auction, filled my order a few weeks ago for a particular variety. I arranged the purchased greenery in my large round containers, sprinkling in a few extra seeds at the edges. A new layer of potting soil and a drink of water finished the job. It was time to wait.
What’s this mysterious flower, chosen specifically for it’s high lutein content? These edible petals inch kale closer to junk food. They make carrots look shabby in the Vitamin A department. The flowers are called Tropaeolum majus. Just kidding. I don’t know them by the fancy name, either. The flowers are commonly called garden nasturtium, Indian cress or monks cress.
I heard the petals taste like pepper, a good addition to salads or even a sandwich. I sat on my porch and plucked a sample from the plant. I felt the soft, velvet texture. I held the orange petal to my nose, taking in a sharp, leafy scent. I nibbled the bright nasturtium. A pleasant, spicy vinaigrette flavor emerged.
It’s decided. As summer rolls along, I’ll fill my fork with the first harvest of vibrant petals. Maybe I’ll throw some tiger lilies if they’re edible on my plate, too. These eyes say yes to nutrients.