Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sweet Pea time!

Nothing quite says 'cooler weather' to a gardener (well, to a gardener in Southern California that likes English and cottage garden classics...) like the mighty Sweet Pea! Lathyrus, the formal botanical name for the lovely Sweet Pea, is a large, diverse family of legumes. They are "native" around the globe in temperate climates, having been found in Europe, East Africa, South America, North America and Asia.

They are none for doing best out here in cooler weather, and are often planted fall through winter. Sweet Peas are pretty easy to grow - rich, "composty" soil, average water, and full sun is about all they need to do well. Be sure to give them a trellis or something to grow on - they are basically 'mini vines' that need support to do their best. About the only thing you can't do is plant them in really hot weather - they just won't do as well in the heat.

They are also kinda 'historical' - some of the varieties we carry were first bred a few HUNDRED years ago! Sweet Peas are part of a heirloom gardening tradition, keeping 'old' species of plants alive and in cultivation; you can read a bit about some of the varieties we are stocking below.

We have seven varieties of Sweet Pea's in stock right now, all grown by the always impressive Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Northern California. They in 4" containers and ready to go home with you! Check out the photos, provided by Annie's, below:

 The "Cupani" variety has a lovely 'two toned' color to it! Here is what Annie's Annuals has to say: 
"History & scentual pleasure! ‘Cupani’ was first cultivated by a Sicilian monk, Father Francis Cupani, who found this intensely scented wild sweet pea growing near his monastery in 1695. In 1699, he sent some seeds to a teacher in England & so ‘Cupani’ is the first recorded Sweet Pea to be cultivated. Though the beautiful deep purple-blue & violet bi-colored blooms are smaller than modern hybrids, ‘Cupani’ retains the original fabulous fragrance loved by Father Francis. No other sweet peas are this fragrant."

"Annie B. Gilory" is a pink variety first cultivated in 1907.  This variety tolerates heat a bit better than others, and has some of the best cut flowers (oh yes, Sweet Peas are GREAT in your flower arrangements!) of any Sweet Pea you will find!

Meet Lathyrus "Bary Dare": vivid, cherry red and ready to bring a boost of color to your yard! We love this variety for the bright dash of color it brings to a tradition of plants that tend to fall on the pastel end of the color scale. Pair him with some of the black varieties we'll be getting in soon!

"Erewhon" was cultivated in New Zealand, and we looooove the two tone color pattern! 
One of our very favorites!

This purple delight is known as "Lord Nelson". The flowers are really almost navy blue, very deep and stunning; in addition to color, Lord Nelson is grown for the powerful, rich, lovely scent it carries!

Check out "Painted Lady", and other favorite! Here is what our grower, Annie's Annuals, has to say:
"One of the five original varieties of Sweet Peas grown in the 1700’s, ‘Painted Lady’ is definitely one of the easiest to grow & we are so grateful it retains its original rich sweet scent. Vigorous & heat tolerant, it’ll grow to 8’ tall, bearing hundreds of 1.5” cherry & white bi-colored blooms on 8-10” stems – totally the best for cutting! Self-sows reliably so you never have to go without!"

How awesome is THIS color pattern?!?!? This Sweet Pea is "Wiltshire Ripple" and it's very very nice! Chocolate and burgundy in color, this lovely variety has a strong, heady scent as well!

All Sweet Peas are annuals, but will self sow - meaning, they will drop seeds and come back on their own - if you leave them alone! Bait for snails when they are young, as snails do love them, unfortunately, as much as we do! Other than that, try a few of these garden classics out, and have fun!

*all photos by Annie's Annuals & Perennials

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