Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Sweet Peas De Resistance; Sweet Peas Are a Favourite Every Year Because They Combine Elegance, a Mix of Colours and Scent Unrivalled by Any Other Flower

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Sweet Peas De Resistance; Sweet Peas Are a Favourite Every Year Because They Combine Elegance, a Mix of Colours and Scent Unrivalled by Any Other Flower

Article excerpt

SWEET peas are a universal favourite. Not only are they the most pickable of cottagey flowers, making the most beautiful bouquets or kitchen table bunches, but they have the best fragrance, too.

Few things in the world smell as good as sweet peas. One sniff can send you into paroxysms of delight.

They combine an elegance of form, a range of colours from the pale and delicate to the dark and dramatic and a scent unmatched in any other flower.

There are hundreds of varieties but all are descended from one introduced from Sicily by Franciscus Cupani in the very last year of the 18th century and still treasured today.

Its name is Lathyrus odoratus 'Matucana'. It has flowers of an engaging colour mix - crimson and deep purple - and the best scent of any sweet pea. It is my favourite.

I grow it every year up a frame of rusty quarter-inch steel rods made specially for them in two big pots either side of the front door.

They clamber up dangling string and bamboo poles in the vegetable beds. In other words, you can grow them up any structure from trellis to obelisks, hiding eyesores or lending height to planting.

And the more you pick the flowers, the more replacements they make.

You can start your cultivation in autumn because the seeds are robust enough if you give them protection from extremes or you can sow in spring and they will catch up.

Sow into individual pots, not together because they don't like competing and will get all tangled up with each other. They also don't transplant well so you don't pot them on but plant them or sow direct.

I use the cardboard cores of toilet rolls filled with compost to start each pea in, then when they are established and the weather has warmed up, I plant them deeply in the place I want them to grow.

The cardboard dissolves and the roots are undisturbed.

Sweet peas climb up by sending out tendrils that hook on to any support they can find.

A lot of the pea's energy is spent on these adventurous tendrils so leaving them on the plant results in small flowers.

Once your plant has reached the size you want, take off all new tendrils and you will get bigger flowers. …

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