Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sweet Peas

Lathyrus odoratus, the annual sweet pea, is a favorite flower. The colors are gorgeous, the fragrance exquisite.

It is not the easiest flower to grow however. I start mine indoors but plant them out quickly so they don't become a tangled mess. Soak the seeds a few hours before planting. They need rich soil and cool, moist weather, which can be hard to supply in American gardens. The older varieties, often labeled "antique" have smaller flowers but are more forgiving of an imperfect environment. The first picture here shows a very old variety that is an easy grower 'Matucana'. What these old varieties lose in flower size they compensate for with their intense perfumes. You can smell this flower all over the garden.

There is also a very pretty perennial sweet pea, lathyrus latifolius. It is usually available in pink shades but I have a pure white (seen in the second picture) that is very pretty. This plant is very easy to grow and easily started from seed. It is dead hardy. It is a very strong grower and would be a great choice to hide an unsightly structure or fence. It does need a trellis or other support, it is not goint to hold on with suckers like an ivy. Unfortunately it has no perfume.

Flower Find

Another project for these endless rainy days or a cold winter evening might be these cross stitch sweet peas. The pattern was adapted by Jfrank1970 from a painting by Sue Woodfine and is available from her shop on Etsy, She also has other patterns available and can supply kits.

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