Sweet peas ( Lathyrus odoratus) are such good value for money. The soft pastel colours and the incredible fragrance of these Summer beauties make sweet peas worthy of your efforts and they are so easy to grow.The only thing to remember is to keep dead-heading the flowers to ensure the plants continue to produce new blooms.
This year I experimented with plants in a 9cm pot and also more mature plants grown on a bamboo frame. This is not the cheapest way to get fragrant Summer flowers into your borders, but buying big can guarantee a good show. Seeds are readily available and can be sown any time up to the end of May, but the flowering period will naturally occur later.You can also sow seeds in October and keep them in a cold frame to overwinter, then, when the weather permits in March or April, plant them outside in their final position.
If you buy an “Old-Fashioned Mixture”,the red and white “Painted Lady”, or the highly scented Grandiflora “Flora Norton”(blue), you should be in for a fragrant treat. Watch out for mildew later on in the season, and spray with a good fungicide. I was lucky this year, and didn’t need to do this.
If you choose to plant the perennial pea Lathyrus latifolius make sure you want it to stay. I once tried removing it from a church yard, and by the time I’d reached down three feet I was beginning to think I was digging my own grave. The roots carried on down and eventually I resorted to more drastic methods.
Whether you go for the fragrance of the sweet pea, or the floriferous perennial pea, be assured that you will have chosen an extremely useful and rewarding climber to ramble through your borders.