Sweet pea

Sweet peas
Sweet peas

 

Quick Notes /

A delicate flower with tissue paper fine petals,

These charming annuals are unique among garden flowers with their vivid colors, fragrance, and length of bloom in the garden. The flowers have an air of romance about them in both their scent and appearance. Sweet peas’ fragrance is a captivating blend of honey and orange blossom, with an intensity that varies from one cultivar to another. The ruffled blooms look like little butterflies all aflutter. Sweet peas offer one of the widest color ranges in the plant kingdom, including crimson reds, navy blues, pastel lavenders, pinks, and the purest whites. These colors are found as solid colors, bicolors, and streaked or flaked flowers.

Growth Notes /

It is an annual climbing plant, growing to a height of 1–2 meters (nearly six feet and six inches), where suitable support is available. The leaves are pinnate with two leaflets and a terminal tendril, which twines around supporting plants and structures helping the sweet pea to climb. The flowers are purple, 2-3.5 centimeters broad, in the wild plant, larger and very variable in color in the many cultivars.

Sweet pea diagram

 

Flower History/

Henry Eckford (1823–1905), a Scottish nurseryman, cross-bred and developed the sweet pea, turning it from a rather insignificant, if sweetly scented flower, into the floral sensation of the late Victorian era.

His initial success and recognition came while serving as head gardener for the Earl of Radnor, raising new cultivars of pelargoniums and dahlias. In 1870 he went to work for one Dr. Sankey of Sandywell near Gloucester. A member of the Royal Horticultural Society, he was awarded a First Class Certificate (the top award) in 1882 for introducing the sweet pea cultivar ‘Bronze Prince’, marking the start of association with the flower. In 1888 he set up his development and trial fields for sweet peas in Wem in Shropshire. By 1901, he had introduced a total of 115 cultivars, out 264 cultivars grown at the time. Eckford was presented with the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour for his work. He died in 1906 but his work was continued, for a time at least, by his son John Eckford.

Insider info /

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