In a Vase on Monday -3 June 2019

The first sweet peas are always for my Mum.

I’m growing a mix of old and new. Heritage varieties: Mrs Collier (cream) and Dorothy Eckford (white). New this year: Capel Manor. Old favourites: High Scent, Wiltshire Ripple Mix, Albutt Blue and Chatsworth.

The best Blue is Chatsworth. Five or six flowers per stem, prettily ruffled and gloriously scented. Long lasting in a vase, and flowers until the first frosts. The Duchess of Devonshire, the last of the Mitford Sisters, lived at Chatsworth and was president of the Sweet Pea Society for many years.

High Scent and Albutt Blue are modern grandiflora varieties with a picotee edge. Albutt Blue, bred by Harvey Albutt I’m 1999, has a blue rim on a white ground. High Scent is a cream flower with a mauve edge. High Scent is also known as April in Paris.

Seeds are planted in root trainers in October. Use 50/50 compost and grit for drainage. I start mine in a propagator at 15C. As soon as a green shoot is spotted, I remove them from the propagator and grow on in a cold poly tunnel. Sweet peas can cope with cold, but shouldn’t be too wet or they will rot. To out-wit the mice, I stand the root trainers in a deep straight-sided plastic storage box. When the seedlings are 3-4″ tall, I pinch out the tips to make bushy plants. The tips can be grown on as cuttings. Very useful if you are growing heritage varieties and only have a few seeds in the packet.

I planted mine in April in no-dig beds. I mulch the bed with Plant Grow (plant based) fertiliser. This feeds and holds in moisture, and seems to deter slugs and snails.

My sweet peas scramble up an A-frame of hazel rods. I grow them in the same place for four years, then move them to a different bed to prevent the build up of pest and diseases. By then, the hazel rods are collapsing anyway and need replenishing. Each year I weave in a few more twigs to strengthen the supports. I water with a liquid Plant Grow feed.

In front of the sweet peas there’s a row of calendulas and highly-scented pinks. Every space is crammed with flowers.

Alongside, there’s dianthus barbatus (sweet williams). These are sown in summer, make good strong roots and leaves in the first year, and flower in the next. This year I’m growing a dark red variety called Sooty which is just coming into bloom. Sweet williams follow wall flowers to give a continuous supply of cut flowers. I learned how to grow cut flowers at Common Farm Flowers with Georgie Newbery in Somerset.

Little extras in this posy are the last of the forget-me-nots and some pink alliums I always harvest, as a way of controlling them. They can become invasive.

And finally, a favourite pelargonium. This originally came as a cutting from my grandfather Ted Foulds. He loved his garden and each week came to visit and “inspect the plot.” He never arrived without a pot of something, a few seeds, an offset, a cutting. Half my garden came from my grandfather and my Mum. He died 22nd May 2005 aged 83. Still desperately missed, but not forgotten. I faithfully take cuttings of his pelargoniums each autumn, and they flower every summer, as a lovely reminder of him.

Links : In a Vase on Monday :

Sweet peas at Easton :

Ripple Mixed varieties :

Plant Grow fertiliser :

Root Trainers :

Sweet William seed:

Common Farm :

You also might like to take part in a prize draw for a Coil Spring garden chair :

32 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday -3 June 2019

  1. Pingback: Six on Saturday. A peaceful walk around my garden. 20th July 2019 | Bramble Garden

  2. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday – 10th June 2019 | Bramble Garden

    • Thank you. Aren’t plants amazing. Those sweetpeas have just reached the top of the supports and are producing more flowers than I can pick, virtually overnight. Little jam jars are going out on the grass verge this week to sell for charity.


  3. I love seeing sweet peas in a vase, but don’t grow them myself after a couple of failed attempts. I think it just gets too hot too early here as I rarely see them in other gardens here. You have reminded me to sow some Sweet Williams though. I love their scent too. How lovely that you have kept cuttings from your grandfather’s pelargoniums going so many years. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cathy. Sweet peas don’t like the heat. They faded fast last summer with 30C temperatures for weeks and weeks. I’m trying some new varieties of sweet williams from seeds of distinction. This year’s are just tailing off. But working amongst them in the early evening is a dream. The scent is like Parma violets.

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  4. I’m going to look for seeds of the ‘Chatsworth’ sweet peas. In my climate, the plants are generally sown in place in September or October for early spring blooms but I need to work on my critter safeguards and improve my supports. Do you tie the developing vines to your supports? My vines were a flopping mess this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kris, I use some new velcro type ties which are so quick to use and recyclable. No cutting bits of string and dropping them and fiddling about. I make a mixture of hot pepper water and cinnamon. It doesn’t hurt the pests, but they don’t like the taste so stay away from the plants. Over here we have to over winter them and plant in spring. Mice can’t swim, so I have also stood the plant pots on bricks in a moat made from a paddling pool. That worked. Good luck


  5. April in Paris is still my neice’s favorite! They are not easy to grow in the Los Angeles region, but show knows how to do it. She starts them in October so they can grow and disperse roots through winter, and bloom in spring. To me, it seems like too much work for such a brief season, but she enjoys it so. She grows more brightly colorful ones too, but April in Paris is there for the fragrance.

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    • Thank you Lucy. I wish you could smell the sweet peas. It’s wonderful when it’s the first ones of the season. And the sweet williams are coming along nicely. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Sooty variety looks like. Seems odd to be sowing seed for next year already. xx


  6. Karen Sweet Peas “Chatsworth” are wonderful, I love them. The other Sweet Peas I like very much. Karen thank you very much for your detailed instructions to grow Sweet Peas: it’s so easy with you. But in my country house it’s too hot for them: I tried one year and I failed because of the heat, the poor burned alive, with what I like. I love your frame of hazel rods to support the flowers. The Sweet Williams “Sooty” have a wonderful color, I love them. Forget-me-nots are fantastic. I like pink pink alliums. You have to be very proud of your grandfather’s pelargoniums that are wonderful and I love them. People who have loved them very much are never forgotten, and they are always in your heart and in your mind. And when you look at those pelargoniums you will remember your Grandfather and what you did together in the garden and smile. The same thing happens with my brother, who died on March 1, 1994. Karen your vase is magnificent, wonderful, charming, I love it. And I love flowers grown with such love. Thank you very much for showing us your beautiful vases. Thanks for the links, they are great. Karen love, health, strength and happiness for your whole family and for you. Take care and rest. Caresses for Meg and Grace. Very loving greetings from Margarita.

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  7. What a lot of interest in this post, Jaren, as well as your vase with the pretty and mostly scented blooms. Interesting to read which your tried and trusted favourites are – and using the tips as cuttings? Never heard of that – do they root easily? That’s a brilliant tip if they do – thanks so much for that. You have also prompted me to think of biennials too, before it is too late in the year

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    • Thank you Cathy. Yes they root ever so easily. I found out by accident. I left the shoot tips on top of a seed tray full of perlite and they rooted in on their own. They produced good strong plants that flower much later than the October sown plants. They were still in flower in November. It feels odd to be sowing biennials for next year when they are only just coming into flower. But it’s so easy to miss the boat and not have any. Just noticed the foxgloves are flowering. Wow, they look so pretty.


      • I will definitely try that, Karen – in fact I have just very belatedly sown some more(outdoor) sweet peas so will try with them. Don’t know if it’s too late for a full season, but they germinated really quickly, so that’s a start


  8. All looking good and it’s interesting to see how you grow them . I have some space left to fill but it’s getting increasingly difficult to find planting holes in the garden! It’s the best time of year though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Alison. I’ve just repaired the hazel frame and tied in the sweet peas. I can’t believe how fast they are growing. One minute there are just a few flowers, and then it’s full on picking time! Enjoy your gardening x


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