Sweet peas climb by tendrils that search for a support to cling to, almost anything will do. When I was a child, my grandparents grew sweet peas to cover an aged greying fence that had once been part of a sun-bathed chicken run. My childhood job was to pick the seed pods and faded blooms from the sweet peas and to regularly cut the flowers in order to encourage them to bloom.
And bloom they did, to a height of six to eight feet covering the fence with profuse colours, filling the yard with their sweet perfume. Sweet peas bloom for long periods from late spring to early autumn, as long as they get watered heavily and frequently so their roots stay moist and cool. The sweet peas in these photos are from my sister’s and brother-in-law’s gardens, still blooming near September’s end.
I always believed that one had to soak sweet pea seeds or nick them to open the hard seed coating, before planting. In Lois Hole’s Bedding Plant Favourites published by Lone Pine Publishing in Edmonton Alberta, 1994, Lois says, “Instead of soaking seed, I simply plant into warm, moist soil and use an inoculant.” She also fertilizes regularly to increase the size and number of flowers.
Sweet peas are an old fashioned annual climber bearing clouds of frilled flowers in varieties of red, purple, white, pink and blue. Though they are a bit of work to plant and maintain, they are worth every speck of energy and care expended. Just look at these flowers, vibrant, delicate, opulent!
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