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.
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.