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Amongst the utilitarian atmosphere of my "mainly for veg" garden, I have made a few concessions for plants that can't be eaten but instead please the eye and nostrils. Actually, I haven't made these concessions, my wife has forced my hand by threats of violence into mixing some aesthetically pleasing plants amongst the herbs and veggies! One such plant that I grow for purely the look and smell of them are sweet peas, they look great and smell sweet enough to get your taste buds tingling - don't eat them though!
Thought to come from the eastern Mediterranean area, they are now spread throughout the world and recognised by many gardeners as being a worthwhile plant to grow as a treat for the senses. They are an annual plant, which effectively means they won't last over an English winter so new plants will have to be sown every year. I have a friend from Jamaica who calls sweet peas "pum pums" , named after a nickname for a part of the female anatomy that they resemble. I'll leave you to discover which part for yourself!
Growing your own
I start mine off indoors in February, but you can start them off in September / October the year before for a head start. When sown either in late winter or early autumn, sweet peas will need protection from frost, so either keep them on a sunny window sill or in a cold frame / heated greenhouse. I sow mine into peat pots which will rot when planted out into soil, as they don't like having their roots disturbed. These peat pots are kept inside on a sunny window sill until late March / early April when the plants should be big enough to survive any late frosts. I plant them out about six inches apart, next to a wall that is covered in netting for the plants to climb up. You can pinch out the top two growing leaves for a smaller, bushier plant or just leave them to be more tall and leggy.
They can be sown directly outside in late April / early May. When sowing from seed, I soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help get them started, then the next day I only plant the seeds which have swollen and bin the ones which haven't.
I saw someone on a gardening programme once start off sweet peas in an old length of guttering, then when they had about four leaves, he carefully slid out the contents of the gutter into a pre dug shallow trench. This method seemed to be a good idea, but I've never tried it so can't comment on it's effectiveness.
Pests and Diseases
If you've sown the seeds directly outside as the weather starts to warm up, you might discover one morning that you don't have any seeds left - mice absolutely love the seeds! If you have a cat, you may want to risk planting them directly outside from seed, otherwise just start them off indoors and them plant them out as mice lose interest once the seed has germinated.
Other pests which will go after your sweet peas include greenflies and pollen beetles. Greenflies can be treated with either chemical sprays or the more organic method of attracting ladybirds to your garden which will eat them. Pollen beetles don't really respond to chemical sprays, but an old bit of gardener's wisdom suggests that they can be enticed off your plants by placing a single light in your garden at night - they will be drawn to this and then can be squished by a vengeful thumb.
A disease which can affect sweet peas is the mosaic virus - spread by greenflies and pollen beetles. As they bite the plant, they open up wounds where the virus can enter. Mosaic virus will give your plants yellow mottled leaves, and the plant will stop flowering and eventually die off. Prevent it by preventing the insects which spread it.
Using Sweet peas
They respond well to being picked; the more flowers you pick, the more flowers will grow back. Pick the flowers off before they go to seed - once they start developing seed pods they will stop developing flowers. They last for about a week once cut in a vase with a spoonful of sugar in the water. Strip the stems of any leaves which will be in the water in the vase - these will rot if left on and the water will smell like a drain. You can get all sorts of coloured sweet peas, and they all smell fairly similar - extremely sweet and perfumey, they brighten the room when in a vase.
Despite their similarity to edible garden peas, the pods or seeds of sweet peas must never be eaten as they are quite toxic. If you've got kids, be sure to explain this difference to them.
These fragrant, intricate and pretty flowers are brilliant for growing as a cut flower to inject a bit of the outdoors into an indoor room, and if you grow your own from seed to cut rather than buying bouquets from a florist you will save a small fortune. Enjoy!
Each day over the last few weeks I've had a room full of delicately balanced aroma far more subtle and consistent than any shop-bought air freshener. I'm talking about one of Nature's own special perfumes, the scented Sweet Pea, or Lathyrus to give it its Latin name. When picked early in the morning, stood up to the flower's neck for a short while and then placed in a vase, these gorgeous flowers will scent a room all day and most of the next.
There are many varieties of Sweet Pea and each has it's own scent, but most are fresh and quite delicate reminding me of cottage gardens and my late mother's garden in particular.
Once the cut flowers start to wilt you can soon top them up with fresh flowers from your garden, as one thing these plants do is to flower profusely, seeming to bloom almost at will. Of course you may find that your cut blooms will last quite a few days and at the height of the growth cycle you could have arms full of flowers to scent the whole house! So how hard is it to grow these flowers?
Sweet Peas are hardy annuals that mean they tolerate spring frosts and therefore can be planted out quite early in the year. The debate about seed growing versus buying plug plants is one that comes down to how confident you feel. Personally I've tried both but have found them so easy to grow from seed that I would recommend this for most of the plant types.
Generally these fall into either category of tall or dwarf plants with a little variation in height on both sides. I like the tall type and this year I've grown about twenty plants reaching five to seven feet in height. This is a good average for plants that can range from six to ten feet.
If this seems too tall for your garden then the dwarf variety will suit you more. These can be planted into beds, borders, containers and even hanging baskets and don't normally require support. All Sweet Peas throw out tiny or large tendrils though, so allow for the possibility of a plant twining around a nearby plant.
If growing by seed then buy early, as the seeds will germinate quite rapidly on a cool indoor windowsill, or in a sheltered spot outdoors. I start mine off in early March on my bathroom window, as this is the one room that doesn't fluctuate in temperature too much. I use a small amount of John Innes seed compost for most of my seeds though I have been lucky with general compost. The seeds are like small-shriveled brown peas and are quite hard to touch. You can soak them for a few hours before planting, but I usually score mine slightly with a blade to allow water to get inside. I sow about twenty in two trays, about a half-inch deep and two inches apart. The first two leaves appear about four to five days later and, with the good spring weather we've been having these last few years, the first 'true' leaves appear in another few days. This year my seedlings were six inches tall after two weeks and ready to plant outside.
The other option is planting in the ground, though this can be a bit trickier as slugs love the young seedlings. Then there is the options of support, which vary from walls, trellis or by using the method of the 'wigwam' a circle of either bamboo canes or tall twiggy sticks (I use old cuttings from a bush). With stick or cane support the circular method works best as you can easily grow the plants against netting stretched around the poles. Ordinary vegetable mesh works fine and is very cheap. Don't bother going to the expense of buying special supports. They may look good but the Sweet Pea plants soon cover them and often chose another path to take. My wigwam worked well until the plants reached four feet and then they wandered off and trailed around my rose bush.
This really depends on where you want to grow your plants, how much space you have and how much sun they will get. Sweet Peas' love sun but like cool roots if possible. Tall plants need space but will happily trail along a fence, trellis, walls etc. They're sociable plants so can go in with vegetables as well. I remember my mother growing hers in a long line strung up on plain old brown string sharing space with her green beans.
These were the tall Sweet Peas and come in mixed colors, one color only, with the classic shape. This is one petal standing upright with two 'wing' petals. I find that most things nowadays have become far too specialized in many ways. Some of the tall plants have names like 'Royal Wedding' and 'Swan Lake.'
The dwarf varieties are 'Bijou' 'Cupid' and 'Patio' to name a few.
With the dwarf plants growing from one foot to about three feet, these are better for pots, containers or hanging baskets, where they will trail with the minimum of support.
Color choices are white, pink, mauve, purple, lavender, maroon, purple, blue, red, crimson and lavender. Mine are all various shades of pastel and look lovely whether they are in my garden or in a vase, the morning dew still glistening on the petals, reminding me that sometimes 'simple pleasures' are priceless.
Sweet Peas are lovely and despite the need for some planning, grow without much fussing. Expect to pay about 1 to 3 pounds for seeds depending if you buy a brand name. I buy Wilkinson's own at about 1 pound for thirty seeds.
Garden Center plants can cost about 4 to 6 pounds for a tray of six. Often they don't transplant well into the garden and disturbed soil can attract pests more.
Don't forget to cut regularly and deadhead your flowers, also cutting off the pods that still develop much like ordinary pea pods. Then you'll be enjoying bunches of flowers until the end of the flowering season.
©Lisa Fuller 1.8.2011.
These are one of the easiest things you can grow from seed, they are a fantastic way to make your garden look and smell great really cheaply. Packets of seeds can be picked up from most supermarkets or garden centers for less then £2, the best idea is to start them off in a propagator inside or in a greenhouse in march/april time, once they get to about 2 inches high in late april/May they can be planted out side where you want them. If you don't have a propagator try putting some toilet rolls on a dinner plate, half fill with compost/soil pop a couple of seeds in then cover and keep moist until they are taken out side, the toilet roll can be plated into the ground directly and will biodegrade. If this all seems like too much hassle just throw them where you want them in april and they'll be fine!!!
They grow up to 2m tall and look great wound around posts of in between fencing, I save the longer twigs from the trees in my garden and use them to make a cheap trellis for the patio. Pinching the flowers off will make them produce more flowers, you can save the seeds (some where dark and dry) to plant next year-but don't eat them they poisonous.
They have tendrils that will wind around what ever they can find and will support them selves when they have something to hang on to. Flowers are highly scented and come in a huge range of colors-pink; purple; white. they work really well as cut flowers. They are useful for hiding horrible walls or fences in the garden and for introducing children to gardening.
Please don't buy them as plant from a garden center they are so easy to grow from seed! and its much much cheaper this way!
Now that the sun has started to shine I am spending a lot more time in my garden. I love strongly scented, colourful plants and for me the sweet pea is one of the best! Sweet peas are easy to grow, provide lots of colour and have the most gorgeous fragrant flowers imaginable.
How to grow.
It is possible to buy established plants but I always grow sweet peas from seed, as it is very easy to do. Seeds are widely available and can be sown from late autumn onwards. I usually sow my sweet pea seeds in about February. My children really enjoy helping to sow the seeds too. I use several deep plastic pots filled with a good potting compost, available form any plant nursery. Sweet peas have long root so will need fairly deep pots. I keep my pots in my laundry room so the seeds are kept nice and cosy! Once the seeds are about an inch high I pinch out the top to encourage god growth. I should point out that sweet pea seeds are poisonous to both animals and humans, so don't let young children put the seeds in their mouths!
In the late spring I move my seedlings outside really for planting. I tend to leave them in the pots for a few weeks to get them accustomed to being outside. I plant sweet peas both in a large pot, and I mean large, on my patio and also in a separate bed in the garden. Sweet peas will need support, as they are a climbing plant. I use bamboo canes to form a wigwam for my pot and single canes joined with gardening wire for the sweet peas I grow in the garden.
Sweet peas like full sun, the more the better. They are in fact native to the Eastern Mediterranean. They are quite hardy and will tolerate the cold however. Sweet peas like well-drained soil, although should be watered if the weather is dry. Sweet peas grow to about 1-2 metres in height although there are dwarf varieties available that don't need any support.
Once the flowers start to appear you will need to remove any dead heads to encourage new growth. The flowers should start to appear from July onwards. This is when your labours are truly rewarded! The scent of sweet peas is gorgeous! I love to have vases of sweet peas around my house as well as in the garden. They are also wonderful for attracting our struggling bees and butterflies. Sweet peas come in amazing colours too, from pastel shades to vibrant reds and purples.
Sweet peas are an annual plant, but they are well worth the small outlay every year in my opinion.
A Sweet Pea is a highly scented annual and has to be one my my all time favourite flowers. Although you can buy the seed and raise your own plants in the greenhouse, which I did last year, most of us prefer to buy the plants from our local garden centre.
The Sweet pea starts life as a small thin straggly plant, it may look very puny but in reality it is an exceptionally resilient little plant.
Sweetpeas love being planted where they will be in the sun and last year during March I planted mine at the bottom of the garden along the bottom of the fence. The results were spectacular, the spindly plants soon gained strength and started to take hold. We made a good framework out of bamboo canes and garden twine for them to climb. As the plants start to grow make sure that you encourage them to twine up along and through the twine and Sweet peas just love water, the more you water them the more flower they produce.
Within a short time you will have a network of plants twining the framework and as they grow the width and overall height increases dramatically.
As you move into July the flowers will start to form, one flower consists of three or four frilly blooms on one single stem.
They look fragile, delicate and have the most wonderful sweet fragrance.
When the flowers start to appear you will get the very most from your plants if you keep picking them, the more you pick the more they grow.
Although you need quite a few blooms to fill a small vase they look exquisite and even better the room smells perfumed too.
When the blooms have been cut they don't last long in a vase, expect to get a couple of days life from them at most. But as soon as one vase is emptied there are more often than not enough blooms to refill it.
When I choose my seeds or plants I generally pick a mixture, this gives me all colours of the spectrum. I have to say that the pale delicate colours are my favourites.
Dwarf Sweet peas are good for small areas or garden tubs. There is a winter flowering Sweet pea but these are generally grown under glass.
Your Sweetpeas will continue to flower quite happily for a few weeks, as you cut the blooms ( you will notice that the stems are quite tough ) keep checking for pods, if you see any pods then remove them as early podding stops the flowering.
Sweetpeas will adapt to most soil types and gardeners have often referred to them as the `Queen of the Annuals`.
The intensity of their fragrance changes with wind, weather, the age of the flower and even the time of day.
The flowers and the seeds are poisonous and are not to be mixed up with the edible pea family.
If you have a fence or a piece of garden trellis that would benefit from having a colourful summer display running up it then the Sweetpea is an ideal choice. If you are short of ground space then use tubs or planters and enjoy their beauty and fragrance.
Sweet peas compliment any Bridal bouquet or make ideal table flowers. It seems they are enjoying a revival of interest but considering how beautiful they are I am surprised that they ever became unfashionable.
The Painted Lady variety dates way back to the 1700`s.
There is a huge variety of choice, large or smaller blooms, many different colours and some Bi- colours.
If you are looking to grow them for the first time take a look at some of the Heirloom Sweetpeas on offer.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SWEET PEA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sweet pes ia one of those flowers that always brings back memories. For me, the memories are of my mother's back garden during sumer time. The scent drifting into the house from the plant placed right outside the open back door. It is a beautiful scent, a very strong unmistakable scent and it stays with me.
The sweet pea plant originated in Sicily and later arrived in the UK where it has taken on many changes through the years.
The flowers it rpoduces are very colourful and rest upon long scattered stems. The scent from these flowers is remarkable.
Growing a sweet pea
Sweet peas come in two forms, the average sweet pea which grows tall, and the dwarf sweet pea which needs less maintanance.
Rich soil is a must for thriving sweet peas and seeds should be sown in a pot in autumn. They should be ok during the winter as they are quite tough, however during extreme cold weather other protection should be used. Seeds can also be planted directly in spring, but planting into a pot in Autumn will ensure plants are ready for re-planting by spring.
As sweet pea naturally grow tall, this can lead to a thinner appearance. If you require a fuller appearance it is necessary to pinch the tops in order to promote new growth to the sides.
If you are planting the regular type sweet pea a support will be needed due to their height. Bamboo or thin wire may be used for this purpose. When planting near other plants, be warned, sweet pea require space.
Sweet pea are such a hardy little plant, they are ideal in the dwarf form for the lazy gardener and even in their natural form, though they do require some management, they tend to grow away by them selves.
The greatest thing about this plant is the flower and scent it produces, a welcome display to any garden!
sweet pea is an absolutley georgeous plant for your garden during summer, the name is a bit miss leading as this plant doesnt produce peas at all but does produce the most beautiful smell in your garden.
These come in a vast array of colours so look beautiful as there are so many different colours together and this plant can be put absolutley anywhere, it is a climbing plant so you can get it to trail up trellising on your fencing which can get to about 8 foot tall and looks absolutley beautiful or you can use it as a trailing plant to come down from your container tubs or hanging baskets so is suitable for any garden from the very small to the very large.
These are available now in dwarf species which only grow to about 8 inches which are also ideal for your hanging baskets or window boxes.
This plant enjoys a cool climate and quite dry soil so it will thrive very well in a british garden.
You can buy a packet of around 200 seeds for about £1.50 from most gardening stores and they are very easy to grow, you dont need to put them in a greenhouse to germinate you can plant the seeds where you want them to grow and water them each time the soil becomes dry.
You can plant your seeds after the frosts of winter have finished, i planted mine at the end of march this year but dont know if they will have survived the snow we had a couple of weeks ago but only time will tell.
These plants will normally begin to flower in may and flower through untill early september but dont worry if they are a bit late this year as the spring has been quite cold.
As your flowers die off cut them off to allow for new growth but at the end of the flowering season leave the last few flowers to go to seed so that you can collect the seeds for next year as this will mean you dont have to buy new seeds every year.
Sweet pea gives a vast array of colour to your garden and look lovely in the garden or as my nan likes in a vase as they smell lovely too.
I always find Sweet Pea a welcome garden plant with an overpowering fragrance that can fill a summer afternoon. Sweet Pea is a climbing plant that must be trained along rods of bamboo or some form of netting or chord. The plants produce tendrils that will entwine around these climbing frames. They will generally flower in abundance from July to September in colours that vary towards reds and purples with many shades of pink, orange and violet.
Unlike most plants, Sweet Peas are hermaphrodites in that they possesses both male and female organs on flowers of the same plant so they can be pollinated by insects visiting a single plant.
New seeds can be planted in early spring or sown earlier during October and November in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Germination usually takes place within just under a fortnight and the young seedlings in winter will grow slowly until spring arrives. Once the warm weather comes the plants will shoot upwards at a fairly rapid pace.
Once in bloom flowers can be cut and brought indoors to act as a most perfumed natural air freshener. It is actually advisable to keep cutting the flowers in order to prolong the flowering period. Once seeded pods are produced, the flowering process will come to an end. It is important to note here that although the seeded pods look similar to edible peas, they are in fact poisonous.
The Sweet Pea is an easy garden plant to grow and a highly recommended addition to cover ugly walls or fences.
What reminds you of summer? For me one of the things that reminds me of summer are the flowers in the garden, the perfume that lingers on the air as the long days turn to dusk and a velvety night falls.
I do like to be outside in the evenings watching the sun go down and the moon, sometimes a huge golden globe in the sky rise, to light the garden with little pools of brightness in the dark.
One of the scents of summer for me is the very sweet perfume of Sweet Peas, or Lathyrus odoratus, to give them their proper name.
So, what are they?
Little round green things, eaten with a knob of butter and roast lamb on Sundays? No, 'fraid not.
Sweet Peas are flowers.
Lathyrus odoratus is the Latin name they are known by. They are related to the pea that we eat, the plants growing in similar conditions and similar ways. In fact, if you grow a row of peas and wander along the row when they are in flower you will get a hint of the sweet perfume they have.
Sweet Peas can grow on plants up to 9 foot tall, traditionally they grow up something, clinging on with their little tendrils or trailing over something like a wall. Ten years ago I saw a wall of sweet peas growing in Corfu and the scent as I walked past was wondrous, I looked to see how they were growing and contrary to what I thought, they weren't growing from the base up the wall, clinging as they grew, they were planted along the top of the wall and trailed down the wall in a curtain of colour and scent.
Nowadays you can buy bushy varieties to grow in a border or a pot on a paito, you can buy trailing varieties to grow in a hanging basket, but the ones I grow are the tall variety because I have found that these are the ones that flower best and smell sweetest.
The plants themselves shoot up at a great rate in the spring given ideal conditions, they are semi hardy, I have some that self-seeded in the same place for a few years before they died out. Mostly though they need to be sown late in the autumn, to be over wintered in a sheltered spot or greenhouse or early in the spring. A warm sunny windowsill will do although if they get too much heat early in their lives they will grow tall and leggy much too soon.
The leaves are fairly small, about a couple of inches long by half an inch or a little more wide. They are a mid green, verging slightly on the grey side of green so not bright or showy in themselves.
The plant stems can be quite brittle and care is needed while picking the flower otherwise you could break the stem off stealing from yourself future flowers. I pick my flowers using small scissors because the flower stems can be quite tough which is when there is a danger of breaking the plant stem.
I watch and wait and wonder, "Will they flower?" or "Will something eat them" or "Will we get enough rain to stop them dying?" And as spring slowly turns to summer I see the first small buds atop tall straight stems. They vary in length, I have had sweet pea flowers at the top of 12 inch stems, true and straight, and I have had some at the top of 1 inch stems, or stems that got caught up in some of the tendrils and curling all over the place.
So what colour are they?
Ah, I am tempted to say "sweet pea colour of course" but that wouldn't tell you much. Sweet peas come in all colours of pink and mauve and white. The white ones are beautiful, small oddly shaped flowers, often three or four on the end of a stem, although as often only one. They range from the palest pink or mauve, with just a hint of colour to the deepest, darkest, richest colours. I have had some that were red, a bright red slightly pink, but never yellow. Some are mottled or narrowly striped; some are a colour with a different coloured edge to each petal. Some are just a clear flat colour but no less beautiful for that.
So, here we have a tower of greeny grey leaves climbing merrily up the wood and string that I made my frame out of, and standing up are some stalks with little buds on the top, and one day I see some colour, pale pink, as the petals open. For me it always seems to be the pale pink ones that flower first of all.
Each individual flower has a couple of standard petals, which are rounded, a couple of wing petals that stand out sideways below the standard petals and a keel petal which is a little petal that sticks out below the wing petals, making them one of the more unusual shaped flowers around.
Ahh The perfume. Pick a bunch of sweet peas and put them in your room, go out for a few minutes and I can almost guarantee that when you re enter you will smell the flowers, they will scent a whole family sized room, not strong but very sweet and pleasant.
Hold the bunch to your nose and inhale deeply and be overwhelmed by the perfume that attacks the senses. It is fairly strong, fairly sweet, quite pungent, and very unusual. Along with the sweetness there seems to me to be an almost nutty tone to them.
If you have ever been tempted by a sweet pea fragranced room spray or eau de toilette to spray on your body and thought it was exactly like what you would expect sweet peas to smell like, then you are wrong. Sweet peas have a very individual perfume and no make of scent or room spray I have tried out have come anywhere near. In the deep dark winter there are many things that remind me of sweet peas, but once they open their petals and emit their beautiful fragrance I realise that nothing really comes close.
So, where and how to grow them?
I have seen sweet peas in Spain, Corfu, and of course in the British Isles. They grow in the middle of the country and they grow in the south, I am not sure they would grow well in the far north reaches of Scotland, but I might be wrong.
Sow the seeds either in November or February, inside, in pots or outside in a sheltered position. I grow mine in very tall flower pots during the winter and plant them out at the end of April, these dates would need to be adjusted though the further up the country you live. Or you can sow directly into the soil where they are going to stay for the summer, this is a very good way of sowing them and not having the bother of raising them indoors which gives brilliant results if a little later.
I live on the south coast near the sea where we rarely get frosts in winter anymore, and a few years mine haven't died down completely and grown up again in spring, this doesn't happen often though, so they should be considered an annual and more sown each year.
Dig deep, and add any enriching material you can find to the planting place. Newspapers to conserve moisture, rotted manure or mushroom compost, compost from the bottom of last years bin.
They like a sunny place but enjoy some moisture at the roots.
They don't like it to be too windy because they grow pretty tall.
I put up a wooden frame in the spring and twined old string round it, something for the little tendrils to grab and wind round as they grow. Bamboo canes are good, but too slippery alone so once again add some string, pea sticks if you can get them are brilliant or there is netting especially for peas and sweet peas to grow up.
If you add too much fertiliser you will get loads of lovely green leaves but not many flowers.
I sow a couple or more varieties because that gives lots of different colours, shades and markings as well as a slightly longer flowering season.
Once flowering starts, pick, pick and pick again, once the flowers start to go to seed the plants will give up trying to re produce themselves and there will be no more flowers.
So there we have, our bunch of beautifully coloured flowers, scenting the air around us, the perfect gift for anyone around. I pick mine about every three days and take a bunch round to my mum, they are her favourite flowers and I hope to keep her in sweet peas until the autumn.
As cut flowers, in water, they don't last very long. Two or three days sees the best of them and after the first day the perfume abates and you no longer notice it when entering the room although there is a little left if you get close and smell the bunch.
One of my favourite flowers, but then I have so many, sweet peas come fairly near the top of the list.
Thanks for reading, Sue:0)
Colour, texture and scent are all important elements of a well designed garden. A mish-mash of plants that are chosen without any particular scheme in mind and thrown into the ground in any old spot will rarely work. Sure, they may bloom but you probably won?t be getting the best from your garden. Our back garden is based on plenty of foliage for texture and cool pastels to add splashes of colour so sweet peas, latin name Lathyrus, fit in perfectly. They?re very easy to grow and look lovely winding their way up a wigwam of bamboo canes in a pot or through a trellis along with clematis or other permanent climbers. Sweet peas usually grow to about 8 foot but in a pot with bamboo canes you can either keep them down by pinching out the growing tips whenever they?re too long or you can help them wind their way around the wigwam by tying them to the canes with soft twine. Obviously, the higher your canes, the better. Hold the canes together at the top by either twisting garden wire around them (it looks like the seals you use with sandwich bags only green instead of white) or buy special caps that have three gaps for fitting over the top of the canes. The second option is the safer option as you?re less likely to damage your face when leaning over your plants although until this year, I?ve always used wire and have never had an accident. I?d probably be more inclined to use them if I had inquisitive children, though. Now?s a good time to plant the seeds. They?re quite big, about the size of a garden pea, so easy enough to handle. Just poke them into the soil where you want them to grow and within 10-14 days you should see the seedlings appear. In a pot, plant the seeds around the canes, planting about twice as many seeds as you think you?ll need. Not all will germinate and should you end up with too many, pull out the weaker seedlings leaving just the strongest of the bunch
to grow on and become vigorous, floriferous plants. Some gardeners swear by soaking the seeds for 24 hours before planting, others say that you should rub the seeds with sandpaper to aid germination. I?ve done neither and never had a problem. If you do decide to plant sweet peas and find that you like them so much that you?ll be wanting some next year, late autumn/early winter, around October/November, is the best time to sow the seeds if you have a greenhouse or shed window sill available although January still isn?t too late. Sweet peas hate having their long roots disturbed so the insides of toilet rolls come in handy here as root trainers. Stand them in a seed tray, fill with good quality seed compost and poke 2-3 seeds into each. Again, they?ll have germinated within 10 days or so and will grow slowly but steadily throughout the winter. By the time spring comes they will be ready for planting out and in flower at least a month before their spring sown counterparts. Young plants growing directly in the ground are often prone to slug and snail attack. A hungry snail can strip a whole row of sweet peas within minutes. Ok, so maybe not quite that quick but it certainly seems like it when you?ve just been admiring some nice, strong baby plants only to discover that they?ve been devoured by public enemy number one whilst your back was turned. Obviously this can be a problem with sweet peas growing in pots too although mine seem to have got away without any sign of attack so far. Those who grow sweet peas for show purposes remove the tendrils that they?ll naturally use to climb as this produces longer, straighter flower stems. However, it means more work, not only because you have to check and remove tendrils on a daily basis but because you?ll have to tie in the plants throughout their lives as they?ll no longer have a natural way of climbing. By leaving the tendrils intact
, you?ll only need to tie in for the first 6 inches or so, until the plants establish themselves but the flowers will be on shorter, less straight stems. Personally, I think that?s part of their charm. In flower from July to September (earlier if sown the previous year), the plant is hermaphrodite, meaning that they have both male and female organs and can be pollinated by insects without the need for the insect to have first visited a plant of the opposite sex. Flowers are highly perfumed and beautiful when cut for the house. You don?t even need to feel guilty for cutting them either; the more flowers you take off, the more the plant will produce. In fact, it?s important to keep cutting the flowers as if allowed to run to seed, flowering will come to an abrupt end. Colours range from white through various shades of pink, red, peach, lilac, blue and purple with streaked and marbled varieties available in combinations of these colours. A pale yellow variety is also to be had although I?ve never seen it in bloom. Picotee flowers, with their wavy edges, are especially pretty. Although preferring a sunny position, sweet peas will also grow happily in dappled shade. Full shade, however, is a no-go zone. During recent years a few dwarf varieties have appeared on the market. These generally grow to about 12 - 16 inches and are therefore perfect for hanging baskets. Imagine a basket full of lush, pastel coloured, fragrant sweet peas, delicate lobelia and maybe a verbena or two. You can?t possibly dispute how pretty that?d be. Sweet peas seedlings can suffer if over watered but established plants are thirsty, needing the soil or compost to be kept damp but not waterlogged. For pot or basket grown plants, watering at least once a day, preferably during the evening, will be necessary. However, they?re not particularly hungry so I don?t b
oth with slow release fertiliser in their pots, I just give them a drop of a good balanced fertilizer once a fortnight. (I personally prefer Miracle Gro although there are organic alternatives available). There are some viruses that sweet peas can be prone to although I?ve never had a problem with them. Maybe I?ve just been lucky. I?m told that they?ll generally show up as flecking of the leaves, stunting or distortion of the plant and/or flowers. Aphids are usually to blame as they transfer virus from one plant to another. Remember to love those ladybirds and lacewings as they really are the best aphid control available although a spray with a solution of 1 part washing up liquid to 5 parts water will usually get rid of them for a week or so. Any plants that appear to be affected should be removed immediately and destroyed. Don?t throw them in the compost bin as some viruses will survive and infect any plants that are later grown in or mulched with your compost. My other half just reminded me that the seeds are poisonous so it?s important that children understand that they are NOT edible as if allowed to run to seed, the pods look very similar to those of edible peas. Our climbing sweet peas are doing well in a pot on the patio and a couple of days ago planted a few more seeds to grow up and around a cherry tree that also grows in a pot on the patio. I?ve some of the dwarf variety ready to be transferred to a basket once my darling partner gets his power tool out and hangs the blooming thing up, too (no pun intended there). Oh, how I love this time of year. I can?t imagine anything more therapeutic than pottering around in the garden. ~~+~~+~~
Sweet pea I think this is one of the most colourful dainty flowers in the garden, it can be grow outside and the flowers cut for vases. There are lots of different kinds of sweet pea and most gardeners grow them, they are a swet scented annual, which means you have to start it off from seed every year. A packet of sweet peas can be bought from the garden centre or B&Q and even in some supermarkets for around 79p, it's a very popular flower. There are three types of sweet pea, spencer varieties which g4row from between 6 and 10 ft and have a huge colour range, these have to be supported and can be grow up a trestle or a wall which has been strung for support. These flower between June and September. The dwarf peas grow to about 12 inches high these also produce lots of loverly flowers which can be cut and taken indoors to brighten up your house. The flowers bloom in June to September. The hedge varieties such as knee-hi and Jet Set grow to about 3ft and these need support too. They also flower from June to September. The seeds which look like dried peas so have to be kept out of the way of little children are best started off by soaking them overnight in water, before planting. You can plant the seeds in small pots or outside in the ground in March. It's always best to turn over a piece of grown under a fence and make sure the soil is free of weeds, I always nail string across the front of the fence so that the sweet peas can take hold and grow up it. When the flowers are blooming you can cut the stems and use them for indoors, always leave some on the plant and remember to dead head, which is just checking the plant for any blooms which are dying and clipping them off with the scissors as this promotes new flowers. Sweet peas are very easy to grow and like a well drained soil which can be well manured before planting, so that they have nice food to help them grow tall with lots of loverly flowers. A
lways check for pests, slugs love to eat them and they can get wilt or milder, you can always get a spray from the garden centre to help prevent this. As it's now time for planting sweet peas, I'll do mine in pots first then plant them out in about early May. You can use little sticks for support if they are grown in pots untill they can grow up a fence or tressle. Like I said these are great for brightening up any garden, the scent of them is very fragrant and you'll cheer up when you sit near these as well as having a good supply of the flowers to cheer up the house and after the long winter we have been through I think these will be nice and bright for the summer months.
As a child, my father always grew Sweet Peas in the garden so it's not surprising that every April you'll now find me out in my garden on my hands and knees planting Sweet Pea seeds and securing my bamboo canes in readiness for a beautiful Summer show. Sweet Peas require very little attention in the early days. You literally take the seeds and plant them where you want them to grow. The fun comes when they start to shoot - the slugs and snails delight in stripping the plants bare when my back's turned so I do tend to use slug pellets (animal friendly ones of course!). Once you've overcome that hurdle, provided the plants are watered well during dry spells, they'll soon be shooting up and winding themselves around the bamboo canes. By early/mid Summer the plants will start to bud and, once again, the bugs bite! Greenfly just love them!! Again, I hit them with an organic bug spray but you really need to nip them in the bud (pardon the pun) and spray them as soon as you see the first sign as, if not, they'll invite all their little buddies (pardon the pun again!) along for a holiday. But it's worth persevering with the early bugs because you'll be more than rewarded with the beautiful pastel shades and the wonderful perfume. One final drawback - you really need to dead head on a regular basis to ensure a constant supply of flowers throughout the Summer.
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Yea I know the title is a little misleading but anyway: I have a lot of time for sweet peas though I would caution against the 'everlasting' sweet pea. This is a perenial climber that just will not take no for an answer. It comes in one colour [so far] - sort of lilac & has NO scent. Don't get me wrong it looks good running through my honeysuckle,late Summer, but it takes some managing - it's like the terminator - hard to kill! I would recomend all honeysuckles to any body but the everlasying type should be treated with caution...
My early childhood was spent in my grandparents' small semi at the back of which was a tiny back garden with a concrete path running straight through the middle. On one side of the garden was a high fence and every summer without fail my grandfather would lovingly plant his sweet peas. Oh the delight of being able to pick them to my hearts delight without being scolded for doing so and I can clearly remember burying my head in huge bunches of pale pink, lilac and white flowers wishing I could breathe that perfume in forever. His sweet peas grew in profusion, growing to an enormous height and hiding the fence completely.It always seemed miraculous to me that no matter how many I picked, more would take their place the next day. When I had my own child I wanted him too to experience the pleasure of gardening. Sweet peas, or Lathyrus as they are otherwise known, therefore seemed to be the ideal choice as they are relatively easy to grow, although they do require some nurturing. The seed soon sprouts up looking something like a beanstalk which is a novelty for kiddies and come spring or early summer there they are in the garden, masses and masses of delicately coloured sweet smelling flowers to be picked and enjoyed in much the same way I did so many years ago. Well that sounds easy doesn't it? Unfortunately there can be problems with this flower. It can be prone to viruses or caterpillars and it is important to soak the seeds for at least 24 hours before planting so that they split beforehand. Some newer brands unfortunately no longer have a perfume so it is important to check first that you have purchased one of the old fashioned types such as Spencers to ensure quality blooms and fragrance. Sweet peas can be planted directly into the ground in March/April to flower in summer, although personally I have never had much success planting in this way as the seeds are tempting to mice and birds. I have had far greater success sowin
g indoors on a sunny windowsill, using John Innes No. 1 compost (Nos 2 and 3 are too strong). The tips require nipping out as the plant is growing to ensure a healthy plant and when they have reached a strong healthy size they can be planted outdoors about 2/3" deep in a sunny position sheltered from the wind. It is important not to overwater seedlings,although once planted outdoors they will require watering every day. Add some peat and feed regularly and you will be well rewarded later in the year. If this all sounds too difficult, sweet peas can be purchased as seedlings from garden centres. For as little as 75p you will get a pot of about 20 small plants. It is however,rather difficult to separate them and personally I don't think there is the same satisfaction as growing them from a seed. Well my seeds are already soaking and will be sown tomorrow. Already I'm looking forward to picking the flowers in summer and filling my home with the fragrance that so reminds me of my childhood. With a bit of luck and plenty of sunshine I will have flowers by the hundred in a few months time.