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|SWEET PEA - Capri
Lathyrus odoratus - An old Spencer variety with large, fragrant light blue flowers.
A flower with a mystique exhaulted to almost angelic proportions is the heavenly sweet pea. The gardener’s love affair with Sweet Peas goes back to 1699 to the cool, mountainous pastures of Sicily where it was ‘discovered’ by an Italian monk. Seed was sent to a Dr. Uvedale, a gardener and physician in England who grew it under glass. Its heady fragrance made it most desirable and after the development of several new colours and an increase in bloom size, it was much sought after cut flower gracing the finest of tables. In the language of flowers, the sweet pea means adieu or departure.
Fanciers adore its intoxicating perfume, its colour and its generosity as a cut flower (but disagree on cultivation methods!). We soak the seeds, sow them directly in fertile soil in early spring 2.5 cm deep, pinch back when 15 cm high and provide netting or strings for them to climb up. Mulch to keep roots cool. Cut bouquets often to prevent seeds from forming. “Keep on cutting, keep on flowering” said J.S. Eckford, the son of Henry Eckford, the great Victorian sweet pea grower.
A nursery catalogue from 1907 shows 461 varieties trialed at the Royal Seed Establishment in Reading, England. Exquisite and highly fragrant, these varieties of sweet peas from yesteryear are slowly making a comeback and we at Florabunda are delighted to offer the twelve choices.