Look, I know everyone KNOWS that a sweetpea is pretty much the most divine thing on the planet right now….
…but I just have to state the obvious once again.
There is nothing so utterly scrumptious as a little glass of sweetpeas next to your bed – just nothing (except perhaps the smell of your own baby’s head or something). If you’ve never had the pleasure, it’s sweetly floral, but not overpowering…intoxicating, yes, but not headachey.
So now I’ve got that out the way, I also need to say that it’s the single most GIVING plant of the entire summer…
…requiring nothing from you other than that you pick it.
I’ve been thinking about sweetpeas a lot because the wonderful Easton Walled Gardens have been doing a sweetpea question and answer session on twitter (and by the way, if you want to see sweetpeas in the sort of profusion that will knock your socks off, then Easton is the place to go).
I was picking my daily bunch today and putting it in FIVE vases (as you do)…and suddenly, newly, realised how lucky I was, and how these bunches were becoming such a normal part of my life, that I was forgetting to evangelise properly and praise them like I should…
…So here I am, evangelising.
This huge bunch of sweetpeas get picked daily from the plants I put in two small trenches back in March. They were not grown from seed, (naughty, naughty me), but bought in six pots from the garden centre. Each pot contained about six plants (Lathyrus Spencer Mix if you’re interested) , and they were all crowded together. I didn’t bother to separate them, (too risky, because sweetpeas don’t like root disturbance) – just dumped them into the trench, which had been dug over the month before with some horse manure. I spaced them evenly, firmed them in and then stuck six pea-sticks in the gaps. By the time they started growing I was so busy that I didn’t even bother to tie them in, just sort of twiddled the stems into the twigs and let them find their own way. That’s it, nothing else, no tending or fussing, and I’ve fed them once (yesterday) with tomato food.
The point of all this is that even though I did the bare minimum, my plants still yield this vast amount of loveliness, and they do it for me every single day. I feel like a cat that’s just eaten a tub of Rodda’s clotted cream (the yummiest, naughtiest cream in the world, and best spread thickly on Bonne Maman Galettes, but only if you’re not on a diet).
Imagine, just IMAGINE, ladies and gentlemen, the abundance I could have achieved with a modicum of preparation and care. At Easton Walled Gardens they dig their trenches two spades deep and add lots of manure. They also feed much more regularly, and obviously they grow individually from seed, making sure that each plant has enough room to grow, and no competition from weeds. I’ll definitely be digging my trench much deeper next year, and will hopefully be back to growing them from seed, where I can take my pick of varieties.
If you want to discover the wonder of growing a sweetpea, you don’t need to have a garden either. I used to grow mine in a deep window box and let them cling to the railings on my balcony. Just make sure you give them a nice deep root run and lots of water. The most important thing though, is to keep picking, because if you stop, and let the seeds develop, then the plant will get lazy and give up flowering.