Rosa 'Konigin von Danemark' and pink sweet peas
Photo: Unwins Seeds Ltd/Frank Bird Photography, c. 1900 reprinted in Gardens Illustrated, June 1999
There they are, the little dears,
The mower and the pruning shears.
Rusty where they hid their heads
All winter long inside our sheds.
“The story of the modern sweet pea begins at the end of the 19th century…Lord Spencer’s head gardener at Althorp (England), Silas Cole, exhibited a variety called ‘Countess Spencer’…with larger, frillier petals…it caused a sensation. They became Queen Alexandra’s favourite flower.” -- from “Sweet Symphony” by Mary Keen, Gardens Illustrated, June 1999.
Sweet peas (lathyrus odoratus) are an old-fashioned scented flower I consider a must in a ‘vintage interested’ home and garden. They’ve all the faults homeowners (note I said homeowners, not gardeners) aren’t interested in: these annuals don’t flower all summer, they need support, the leaf isn’t attractive. Consequently, garden centers can’t stock them. But you can grow them. Soak the seeds overnight before planting in situ.
Using Beth’s $4 French-inspired Tattered Vintage sheet 95, I printed them on my color printer, then glued two together back to back with a bamboo skewer in between (obviously this is last year). They’re perfect for raising flats indoors or in a cold frame before planting out.
I made a Microsoft Word document with the names of my flowers (in French if I could translate it, otherwise in Latin), in the pretty Kunstler Script font, cut them out and glued them on. I believe tiny details in the home and garden make for a huge experience of cloaking your world with only the pretty and sustainable. Unlike plastic, when these markers outlive their usefulness they can be reabsorbed back into the earth.
These are pictures of last year’s sweet peas form packages of mixed colors I bought in the supermarket. I got a lot of reds and bright blues. Since I prefer shy shades, this year I’m shopping at Thompson & Morgan online for select varieties. I did this 15 years ago and remember the results were good, but it came at a price for premium imported seed.
Am I alone in the love of these non-mainstream flowers?!
Until next time, stay shabby!
I’m sharing this post with other gardeners at:
Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer
Cottage Flora Thursdays at Fishtail Cottage
Please join us!