I was working in the Heritage Garden last weekend and saw a lovely little tripod for sweet peas that one of the Heritage Gardeners had made.
There were a few sweet peas already sprouting and it reminded me it was time to plant mine. I love sweet peas. I enjoy planting the nice, big seeds. They’re greedy plants and I like feeding them with compost and blood and bone, imagining how much good I’m doing them. When they start to wind and coil around my cane tripods it’s exciting to check on them every day. They look so good it’s almost a shame to pick the flowers but pick them I do as they smell so delicious and picking them will encourage more blooms. Sweet peas are becoming more and more popular in New Zealand which garden historian, Bee Dawson, describes as being paramount in the sweet pea breeding world.
A few years ago I stumbled on a little book A Bunch of Sweet Peas which told the story of Reverend Fraser, a Scottish minister who, in 1911, entered a sweet pea competition in the hope of winning some money to help with the cost of repairing the roof of his church.
The competition was held in London so the sweet peas had to be carefully packaged for transport by train. The Reverend Fraser won the first and third prizes and I was intrigued to see that news of his success, and his recipe for prizewinning sweet peas, was printed in the Taranaki Herald at the time. Perhaps I’ll try his advice this year.