Hello Sweet Pea, I love you!
Updated: Apr 20
According to the language of flowers, sweet peas mean: delicate, blissful, and pleasurable. Perfect words to describe some of the loveliest English summer flowers. Originally native to Sicily, the sweet pea first arrived in England back in the 17th Century where it has been crossbred to become the deliciously fragranced and colourful flower we know today.
Sweet peas light up a garden or a vase with their watercolour palette of pink and purple flowers. They come in ruby, violet, fuchsia, white, plum and lavender shades, and they are all gorgeous.
Did you know that there are two kinds of sweet pea? There are the annual sweet-smelling ones, and the perennial fragrance-free variety. If like me you, the scent is important to you then be heartened to know that it’s incredibly easy to grow them from seed each year.
Growing sweet peas
April is the best time to plant sweet peas.
Find a bright sunny spot that is easy to access for regular picking and use fertile moist soil to plant them in.
As climbing plants, sweet peas spread quickly by attaching their tendrils to anything that comes in their path. Use support frames or pyramids to help guide your sweet peas up vertically. Alternatively you can let them bush out naturally in a wilder formation, but allow plenty of space.
Looking after sweet peas
Sweet peas are extremely thirsty, so ensure they get plenty of water. In the height of summer you should water sweet peas every three to four days if planted in the ground, and daily if in a container.
Supplement your watering regime with liquid fertilizer once a week.
When flowering begins the fun starts. The more you pick the more they grow!
Styling sweet peas
For best results keep things simple and display sweet peas on their own. I like having multiple vases running down the table or dotted around the house so that the delicious scent follows you around.
Keep cut flowers in fresh clean water and change the water regularly.
Add a dash of bleach, and a spoon of sugar to the water to make the blooms last their longest.
My experience with sweet peas
This year Jack and I planted dwarf sweet pea seeds into a relatively small pot. The flowers grew beautifully but the stems were extremely short which made it tricky to style them in a vase. Instead we put them in little shot glasses and ran them down the table. Whilst it was effective, it was not the showstopping effect you can achieve with the longer stemmed variety, so next year we are going to plant the standard sweet peas in a bed with deep soil so that they can grow up and up.
I went to London to see the Dior exhibition at the V&A. It was spectacular. As much as I loved all the designers that have followed, the original designs that Dior himself created are still my favourite and they have stood the test of time incredibly well. I took Bertie with me, but sadly the poor boy arrived in the Capital with flushed cheeks and a nasty fever. I wheeled him around the exhibition in a calpol daze and then and ran back to Waterloo to take the first train home. It was a hurried visit, but so great to be back in buzzy London. I have to thank the five different men who helped lift his buggy up an down all the stairs on the underground. Next time I will take the bus!
Once Bertie got better, we took him for his first swim at the local sports centre. Oh my God, even in 2019 the pool had the exact same sickly chlorine smell and the insanely hot temperature as the one from my childhood. Luckily Bertie didn’t notice, and he loved bobbing in the water. It was a joy to see.