Gardening News Navigation
jill, houghton, garden, services, maintenance, design, landscaping, stratford-upon-avon, bidford-on-avon, evesham, warwickshire, worcestershire, hedging, weeding, pruning, tree work, tree surgery, landscape gardening, paving, timber, decking, planting, driveway, fencing, patio, water feature.
Growing fragrant sweet peas
Ask any seed company to name their Top 10 bestselling flowers and you’ll regularly find sweet peas in first place.
Sweet peas are the gardeners’ favourite for climbing colour and delicious fragrance, bringing a touch of cottage garden nostalgia to town and urban spaces, and as a hardy annuals they are easy to grow from seed. Their popularity has also made them a favourite for cover mounting on Gardeners’ World Magazine over the years – you may even be growing our ’20th Anniversary Mix’ sweet pea that we gave away with our April issue.
Very dry spring weather made it quite a challenge getting sweet peas established this year, and regular watering has been essential. Dryness at the root through summer is one contributory factor to the powdery mildew overcoat that has now infected their foliage in my garden (anyone know any resistant varieties?).
With regular deadheading and watering I’m hoping to keep my sweet peas going a little longer, generating ever-welcome cut flowers.
For me it’s also one of the few flowers I actually cut and bring indoors. A tall rosebud vase is perfect for a small bunch, and I position it somewhere I regularly pass during the day so I can pick it up, breathe deeply, and lose myself in its sweet scent.
There has only been one year when I got really obsessed trying to grow the very best sweet peas – just like the show growers. To produce flowers with really long straight stems you need to grow plants as single stemmed cordons. Each plant is only allowed to produce one shoot, and this is given its own tall vertical cane for support. Don’t let plants scramble and make their own way to the top, but snip off every tendril you discover (almost a daily job) and attach shoots to canes with special ties, or wire rings. Any tendrils left in place can twist onto flower stalks and bend them, so every one needs removing.
Then, like all peas and beans in the veg plot, sweet peas need a continual supply of moisture – not easy in the East Midlands and other areas that have been so dry. That’s why soil preparation is such an important part of gardening. It may sound like I’m a broken record repeating the advice “dig plenty of compost or manure into your soil”, but without this water-holding, sponge-like reserve, water just drains through soil without being locked in.
Show-quality sweet peas, like anything worthy of a top prize, require work and dedication. Unfortunately my life doesn’t revolve around my sweet peas, so I’m content with a vase of twisted and short-stemmed alternatives, and these bring me plenty of satisfaction.
What’s your favourite sweet pea variety?
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers. Five Filters featured article: A 'Malign Intellectual Subculture' - George Monbiot Smears Chomsky, Herman, Peterson, Pilger And Media Lens.