Farewell Sweet Pea

At the beginning of this year I decided I would grow my own Sweet Peas from seed.   In past years I have always been given starter plants by friends.  Determined to do it correctly,  I collected my toilet rolls and dug out a few root trainers from the back of the shed and after a little deliberation I choose Cupani.  I loved the colour of the flower on the seed packet, which also advised that they were a heavily fragranced.

Sweet Pea seedlings Feb 2011

Cupani are an original sweet pea,  growing into bushy plants and supposed to rarely grow above 4 ft. and ideal for a modern garden.   Actually this bit of information I gleened from the internet was not quite true, mine grew to above 6ft.   The flowers were quite small with only two per stem,  but the colour was intense and with a wonderful scent, however, for some reason mine didn’t have that ‘knock you back’ when you walk in a room perfume.

The colour was glorious, with the various shades of purple through to maroon.  I did find them almost overpowering, to me there was just too much purple, I missed the lovely pale pinks and blues that you get with a variety such as a Spencer Mix.   I cut them regularly, sadly they didn’t last more than a couple of days, but as they were growing prolifically I had more than enough to regularly replenish vases.   In a recent Gardeners World program, Monty Don suggested that if you cut off all the flowers they will continue to shoot lots more in an effort to produce seed pods.  He also said that way you could be lucky enough to continue to have Sweet Peas until September.   I was not that lucky.  The resulting stems were very short, almost too short for the smallest vase, I put mine in a sherry glass.

Cupani is a very tough resilient plant with good strong stems and it has only been in the last few weeks they started to go brown at the base and were sticky with greenfly.  The flowers were very small and not worth cutting any more.

Last weekend, I pulled them all up because they really were looking raggy and unkempt, happier to produce seed pods and not flowers.   I will grow them again next year and saw recently a wonderful idea of growing them under a Lilac bush.  The article said they should start to flower just after the lilac has finished and you just let them scramble through the tree.  It’s worth a try anyway.  I will also grow Spencer Mixed or a similar variety for the lovely pastel colours.   Meanwhile, one last photo of a beautiful Sweet Pea.

25 thoughts on “Farewell Sweet Pea

  1. Love the last photo Ronnie. I grow ‘Matucana’ at the allotment every year, which is similar to ‘Cupani’ but disaster befell this year. Plants did not take off in that very dry April spell : ( Have had to make do with admiring and smelling my plot neighbours glorious display which isn’t quite the same. Glad that your sweet peas gave you so much pleasure this summer.

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  2. Popped over from Pseu’s site to take a look, and what a glorious surprise! sweet peas are my favourites and these photos are beautiful. Thank you for an uplifting post…

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    1. Hi there! Thank you for your visit. The blogging world is great, you peel away the layers and find something interesting each time. I love visiting other blogs and then the blogs of those who have left comments, all sorts of goodies turn up, and now I have found your blog with beautiful photos. Have left similar comment on your blog!

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  3. The colors are gorgeous…some of my favorites! I grew this one year, but, like you, I was disappointed at the brief show. However, perhaps there is something to be said for that short burst of stunning color.

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  4. Hi Ronnie,

    I’ve really missed growing sweet peas this year. I decided last summer not to grow them where I work, as they were so labour intensive, i.e. lots of watering (or else they sulk and get mildew) and lots of picking (or else they run to seed and forget to flower). I used to work in a garden where it would take me about 45 mins to cut all the blooms and take them (in buckets) up to the house. That is, if the scent didn’t knock me out on the way! I do grow the perennial form now but my, I do miss the scent and so frankly, they’re not the same. You’ve reminded me why I must grow annual sp’s again next year. Thanks.

    Dave

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  5. So so pretty, reminds me too of childhood gardens, the amazing scent and the fun of matching and mixing the colourful bouquets, thanks for the memories and the wonderful pics!

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  6. Ronnie, if you want Cupani again but would like three and even four similar flowers on the stem, on a slightly more vigorous plant, order Matucana instead. widely available – it’s the best seller from Kerton (http://www.kertonsweetpeas.co.uk/).

    The knock-back effect is available from King’s High Scent alias Hi-scent which is a fairly primitive flower compared with Spencers, and from most though not all blue Spencers – too strong for me – I prefer the sweeter ones like Heaven Scent.

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  7. I love Sweet Peas, they remind me of my dad. When we were kids it was the one flower we planted every year together back when we lived in Wales. I’m going to have to remind him of that lovely memory when I talk to him next. Your photos are beautiful.

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  8. Hi Ronnie,

    May I suggest ( if you haven’t already tried it) the everlasting sweetpea Lathyrus latifolia.? It lacks the scent of L. cupani, but certainly offers an abundance of longer stemmed shell pink flowers and blooms non-stop from July to October. L. vernus is pretty good too, with distinctive ‘sweet pea’ fragance though smaller at 50cm (ish.) You sound as if you like pastels, so a real cracker is L. odoratus ‘Royal Wedding’ Pure white sweet smelling flowers up to nearly 2m in height. I shall enjoy watching your garden grow. Love Lucy x

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  9. I love sweet peas. I normally buy the seedlings from the garden centre, but this year I grew all mine from seed. 3 varieties, one is ’20th anniversary mix’ which was free with Gardener’s world magazine and that’s doing really well. Can’t remember what the others were, but they’re not so great.

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  10. A friend of my mother who is very green fingered, (80 years old and loaded down with wisdom) bought her sweet peas ready for planting out. She just dotted them around and then when she visited in June bought me a bunch that lasted for a week in a vase. I certainly wont be growing from seeds next year and will follow example, let others do the hard work. Gorgeous photos as ever Ronnie, they just get better and better.

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  11. Hi Ronnie, we failed to pick our sweet peas regularly enough, so although we still have some, we also have a LOT of seed pods! Can’t see us making it through to September, but at least I won’t have to buy seed either. I really like the deep rich colours of Cupani, and grew that and a deep blue one, but balanced it with lots of whites and pale pinks, because like you I think all dark is too much. Lovely photos!

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