Friday, April 22, 2011

Starting Sweet Peas



















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.

D.A.W.



“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!









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32 comments:

Stephanie ~ Angelic Accents said...

Beautiful sweet peas, beautiful tags! I'd expect nothing less from you, Sandy!

Hope you have a blessed Easter!

Big TX Hugs,
Stephanie
Angelic Accents

Lou said...

Sandy - Sweet peas are one of my favorite flowers. My parents were avid gardeners and every year my mother would start her sweet peas in her small greenhouse and my father would make ready the old barn wood frame that would have lines of twine from top to bottom the entire length, and when the seeds were ready, she would plant them right outside of the greenhouse and they would rapidly climb the rope. We would pick them everyday and have a beautiful bouquet of flowers ........ and I was lucky to be able to take them into my office on a regular basis and smell their sweet fragrance at my desk. What a wonderful memory! Thanks for the flashback.
Connie (akalou)

Bella said...

Hi Sandy,
You are not alone! I love my sweetpeas:-) They are worth any trouble for the scent alone, and those blooms, not too shabby either! I bought a variety of heirlooms and save seed too:-)
As always so glad to hear from you, your lovely world in always a delight to visit!
Hugs,
Bella

Karen said...

I love the delicate beauty of sweet peas, sadly I have no luck growing them. Those tags are beautiful.

Gracie's Cottage said...

I was at the store looking for sweet pea seeds just this afternoon. I think along with cosmos, they are my favorite cottage flowers.

Love your tags!

Jan

kerrie of sea cottage said...

I am too late in planting sweet peas this year. They have the most intoxicating fragrance. My late Grandmother always had sweetpeas growing up the side of her trailer home. I try to plant them every year in honor of her. I really like the new look of your blog.

Nana Go-Go said...

We`re very lucky over here in that we can buy the seeds cheaply(I just paid 29p for each of my packets at my local cheapie supermarket)and have a long flowering season (they love our inclement Summer weather!). They look great grown around wicker obelisks - very rustic and cottagey!Have a wonderful Easter. x

It's me said...

Beautiful post Sandy...happy easter weekend...love and sunshine from em darling....xxx...xxx...xxx...

High Street Cottage said...

They're beautiful Sandy. I like the shyer shades too.
Love the tags, fantastic ideas. Always inspiring to visit.
By the way I love the new look, tami

Jeanine Burkhardt said...

Love the "tattered vintage tags" - nice adornment...
Jeanine, ChiPPy!-SHaBBy!

Curtains In My Tree said...

No your not alone in loving them.

My Aunt Ollie always had sweet peas and I have from year to year.

I think I will plant mine this year inside my clematis that way they can have support.

I know yours will be show stoppers in pictures

HWIT BLOGG said...

Lovely pictures and lovely blog!
Best wishes from Sweden and Titti

A Cottage Muse said...

Those tags are the perfect accessory for your beautiful sweet peas!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

THE VERANDA HOUSE said...

HI SANDY THANK YOU SO SO MUCH FOR YOUR HEART TOUCHING COMENTS.I LOVE SWEET PEAS,HOME DEPOT HAS PASTEL COLORS.I WILL PLANT SOME AND I WILL USE CHICKEN WIRE TO SUPPORT THEM,I DONT HAVE MUCH SUN IN MY GARDEN I PLANTED TO MANY TREES.I LOVE ANTIQUE PLANTS VICTORIAN GARDENS HAVE SO MUCH.I HAVE SNOWBALLS IN BLOOM NOW,SOME OF MY ANTIQUE ROSES ARE NOT BLOOMING THEY WILL IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS.I HAVE EDEN ROSES NOT BLOOMING IN THE NEXT 3 WEEKS THEY WILL.THERE IS A VINE POTATOE VINE IS JUST BEAUTIFUL AND DAINTY,BACOPA I S BEAUTIFUL TO,IS GODD FOR HANGING PLANTERS IS WHITE,CECILE BRUNERS ARE PALE PINK SMALL ROSES JUST RIGTH FOR COTTAGES..I THINK YOU LIKE VINTAGE GARDENING..HAPPY EASTER TO YOU AND YOUR KING ..HUGS SANDRA

SizzleandZoom said...

I love sweet peas.I would grow them but I haven't any room.Lovely
post.

Violets Are Blue said...

Hi Sandy ~ I imagine you will find quite a crowd of admirers of sweet peas. So fleeting in the garden which is why, in my mind, they are held so dear. Much like strawberries, peaches, and hugs. Patty/BC

Amy @MaisonDecor said...

I like sweet peas, but have never grown them. I grow morning glories for a quick climber up my trellises. YOu can find pretty pastels in the morning glory. I will look around Home Depot like a commenter said, and look for some sweet peas!

BELLE BLANC said...

I love sweet peas! Beautiful pictures...
Wish you a happy easter my dear!
Hugs&Kisses, Mira

Vicki said...

I don't know about sweet peas...until now, with your interesting post, Sandy. I do have a little Texas cousin nicknamed, "Sweet Pea," who was as lovely a child as the flowers in your photos!

Actually, something is sparking my brain with all the comments here and I seem to be coming up with a vague memory of sweet peas growing up a porch column next to my grandmother's small garden plot of mostly pole beans and tomatoes. Is this possible? I wonder if it's power of suggestion or if it's something I'd forgotten in 50 years. I was just a little thing. I'm also getting a flashback of a black & white photo of Grandma in her big, wooden rocking chair in the shade under a big fruit tree (plum?), with me and my brother standing beside her, just back from church on Easter Sunday...me, with my pink and white full-skirted tulle dressy dress (I still have it) and a white straw bonnet adorned with pink satin flowers, tied under my chin with a big pink bow. (I loved that hat.) Wow. What a wonderful way to end my evening after a day I didn't think could be salvaged (long story). Thank you. I'm so grateful for the subject of sweet peas!

Norma said...

The fragrance and apparent fragility of sweet peas make them really special. They were a feature of my childhood summers, every year my mother planted them and they grew supported by strings in a sunny spot on our cottage wall. Special memories :)

Classic Style said...

Pea is my favorite :)) /Marie

Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage said...

Popping over from your sweet comments on my blog! It's been a while since I was last here! I really enjoyed by visit--and wow--do I love sweet peas! (I'm an April baby, so I guess that has something to do with it!!!)

~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage

Linda Carole Bloom said...

Hi Sandy,
The one time I started seeds inside was the "Sweet Pea Fiasco." I had trays of them everywhere, in the kitchen and dining room. When they finally came up and it was warm enough to plant them out, I carefully put chicken wire along about 50 feet of fence, then the next morning planted them in a cold rain at 6 am, for THREE hours before I went first to work until five, then nursing school. The next morning about half of the 150 seedlings had been cleanly nipped off, and that evening I watched a very fat groundhog finish off the rest of them. And that, as they say, was THAT. Good Luck with yours, Love, Linda

Lilla Blanka said...

Hi sweetie,

I just love sweet peas, they are so delicate... and I can almost feel the scent..mmmm I really need to get some this year too :)

The tags are great!

Wishing you a wonderful week ♥

xoxox
Mia

1 Oak Arts said...

Love your idea for markers, Sandy.

I recently found out that sweet peas were my great-grandmother's favorite flower . . . I bought a package of seeds and planted them, have never grown them before. They seem very much like an old-fashioned flower ~

Regards,
Pamela ~

Made in Persbo...Carina said...

Hi there you little sweet pea ;)

Oh you´re not gonna be dissaponted if you visit Vintage by Nina....I dare to promise you that :)
There are a lot of other beautiful places near by as well (slottstallet.se, Mor Ágústas, stenhusetantikhandel.com, and many more).

If you also want to come to the area of the great lake Vänern you are welcome to stay at my place :)

Love, Carina

La Vie Quotidienne said...

I love sweet peas and grow them every year. Here we plant them in late fall. The plant tags are lovely. Thank you for sharing. Have a great day!

Linda said...

Sweet peas are a favorite here at our house too, but they like it cool, so we have to plant them late winter to enjoy them here.

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

Your post is beautiful as always! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. Thanks also for the lovely compliment, reply, and understanding the work that goes into redesigning.

You are beautiful inside and out!
xoxoRosemary

Burlap Luxe said...

Merci pour votre visite de sable, c'est un honneur de recevoir un compliment de votre part.

bisous à vous!
~ Doré

See you soon with all your white beauty!! as well as the color you create over here!

The Eclectic Ark said...

I never thought of flowers as "vintage " before but now that you mention it, I suppose many of the flowers I choose for my patio are ones that remind me of my Grandmothers garden. I have 2 sweet pea 6 packs that I was lucky enough to buy as plants,a honeysuckle vine, a lilac bush, some foxglove and lavender amongst others. I think they all qualify as "vintage". I'm just missing for-get-me-nots and bluebells and I would be back at home in England. PS love your natural plant tags, plastic is evil,things that can decompose are good!

Amy @MaisonDecor said...

Saw this old post of your in the boxes below your current post and wanted to tell you that I did plant the sweat peas and they grew lots of foliage but I never had a flower. Maybe I planted them too late. I wonder if I need to get them started earlier? I would like to try them again this spring.

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