In a Vase on Monday #IAVOM #MondayMotivation

Finding comfort in familiar things, I’m joining in with the weekly In a Vase meme. And this week it’s the first bunch of sweet peas – for my daughter Rachel, for her kitchen window at her first home. We still can’t believe she’s managed to complete the purchase, in the middle of a pandemic. Well done to her and her partner Sam for determination, riding the wave of crisis and uncertainly, and keeping strong along the way. It’s not been easy. But we will look back and laugh at all the ups and downs, I’m sure.

Photo: Albutt Blue.

I sowed my sweet peas in October in root trainers. I used Melcourt multi -purpose peat-free compost and added 25 percent grit for drainage. Sweet peas hate soggy feet. I started them off in the greenhouse to defeat the mice. Mice give up when the shoots are about 5″ tall as all the energy from seeds has gone into roots and shoots.

I’m growing heritage types varieties and a new sweet pea called Pilgrim 400 to celebrate the 400th anniversary since the Pilgrim Fathers sailed for the New World. The heritage types include lovely creamy white Mrs Collier. Seed came from Easton Walled Gardens near Grantham.

I made my sweet pea supports in February using hazel rods. These are usually used in hedge laying and are the binders that go along the middle of the hedge. Farm suppliers sell them for not much money.

I wrote about creating the rustic supports for my regular column in weekly Garden News magazine on 25th February. I must say, having the writing to concentrate on has helped me cope with the lockdown. It’s given me something cheerful to focus on. It’s lovely to be part of such a supportive team and I’ve appreciated the editor’s letters each week summing up our thoughts on the covid crisis and ‘steadying the ship’ with calm and sensible advice. It’s made a difference.

A week after I’d made the sweet pea supports we had high winds and snow. Luckily my frame stayed solid. A testing time for the garden- and us.

I planted out my seedlings on April 12th. The root trainers open out like a book, so there’s little damage to roots when you transplant them. Admittedly, these are made from plastic, but I’ve had mine for 6 or 7 years so far, and treated carefully, they will last a long time.

And here they are this week. The first bed has Charlotte potatoes. We’ll be eating those soon. The second bed has two rows of sweet peas. In between the A-frame there’s a row of gladioli, and calendula Snow Princess is grown as ground cover. There’s no room for weeds. Last year’s frame has been propped up, repaired and has climbing beans and squash planted this time.

I’m growing Wiltshire Ripple which has speckled flowers with a picotee edge.

This is High Scent. Another lovely picotee edge and wonderful scent.

Mayflower 400.

Old fashioned, highly scented mix.

I’ve planted new cosmos Apricot Lemonade in front of the frames. I’ll tie them in as they grow. There’s not an inch of space to spare, which is the secret of reducing watering, by covering the ground.

And here’s the first pickings. Such a joy. This scent is worth waiting for all winter and just speaks of glorious long, sunny, summer days.

With a little bit of Sweet William at the base, just coming into flower on the veg patch now.

And here’s a photo of Rachel when she was little, with her guinea pig Rosie. Thank you for all your lovely comments last week. And for your good wishes for Rachel and Sam. I was very touched by all your kind words. Thank you 😊 x

Links : Thanks to Cathy for hosting the IAVOM meme. Why not go over and see what everyone is growing and putting in their vases this week. It’s a world -wide community of gardeners.

Albutt Blue

Pilgrim 400 :

Cosmos Apricot Lemonade:

Haxnicks root trainers :

35 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday #IAVOM #MondayMotivation

    • Thank you Cathy. Lovely to send something from her old home to her new. Thanks for your kind words. Some rain has arrived here. Not enough yet, but I’ll probably regret that if we we have a storm again. x

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  1. Karen the sweet peas for your daughter Rachel are divine. He will put them in his new house. The photo where Rachel is a little girl with her guinea pig Rosie, I love it, she was a beautiful girl. Sweet peas planted in October in the Heritage Variety Greenhouse and the new Pilgrim 400 have survived the mice. You are very pretty in the photo in which you make the supports for sweet peas with hazelnut bars: I love the supports. I really like that you are in a solidarity team writing in Garden News magazine and I am glad that it helps you to escape from the Covid-19. On April 12 you planted the sweet pea seedlings and reused their plastic seedlings: I love it. What a wonderful photo of this week overflowing with plants! Charlotte potatoes, sweet peas, gladioli, Snow Princess marigolds, climbing beans, and pumpkins – I love it. I love all the sweet pea flowers and their perfume – the photos are magnificent. The vase of sweet peas with that range of colors and Sweet William is magnificent, wonderful, divine: I love it. Karen sorry I haven’t written before, but the heat has me groggy and the depression too. I hope you are all well. Health, strength, encouragement, hope, positive thinking and a lot of love for all your family, Mr B and for yourself. Loving caresses to Grace and Meg. Keep you safe and secure. Enjoy your wonderful garden. Lots of love. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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      • Thank you too. You sound much happier. In truth, we are all finding ways to be happy. It is not easy at all. But every day I think of something I can do for someone else and then I concentrate on that. It may only be something small, like picking some flowers to sell for the children’s hospice. Small steps make a journey. Small stones make a ripple in a big pond. Xxx

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      • Yes Karen, I have days, and reading your blogs and the news of the little kitten I get very happy and cheerful. Thank you very much for your wonderful blogs. And you’re right, little things make us feel better. Much love to all. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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  2. I adore sweet peas! Sadly, my first sowing either didn’t germinate well or I suspect something nibbled them – we have both deer and rabbits, alas. It may be too late for another sowing, but I went ahead and planted the rest of my seed. It has been a cool spring, so I might get lucky.
    Thanks for the reminder about the 400th anniversary of Plymouth Colony’s founding. (And I live in Massachusetts, too. Ironic that a Brit told me – ha!)
    Have a great week, Karen!

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  3. I’m impressed by your sweet pea supports and the root trainers. I’ve never seen the latter before and will keep it in mind next year when I start my own sweet peas. In my climate, I generally direct sow sweet pea seeds in September or early October but for the last few years critters have been delaying my flowers by nibbling the plants so starting them under protection may be the ticket.


    • Thank you Kris. Yes, mice are a problem here, so I start them indoors and only plant them out when they are well on the way. I ran out of compost 3 weeks ago, and had to sow some broad beans direct. I soaked them in garlic wash water for 24 hours and then planted them out. The mice don’t seem to like the taste, or perhaps the garlic disguises them. Anyway, luckily most have come up and are about to flower. I’ll do that again next spring. Thanks for reading. All the best. Karen


  4. Hurrah for your sweet peas – and what lovely selections you have chosen! I am pleased that today I have the first flowers from those I sowed at the end of January, the healthiest outdoor sweet peas I have ever grown. You will be pleased that I made my supports after having seeing yours in that earlier post, AND I sowed some more today after reading your recent posts at the w/e. Well done for continuing with your articles – I nearly treated myself to a copy of Garden News recently but the voucher I needed to use wasn’t acceptable in that store and it wasn’t in stock at the alternative store I went to. Keep up the good advice, Karen!

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    • Thank you Cathy. That’s great news. Have you heard of an app called Readly. All magazines for one price. I haven’t use it yet, but there a free trial. Enjoy your sweet peas. 😊👍🌱🌺 xx


      • I have come across it when I googled for info on things but hadn’t realised what it was – I think I will always prfere paper copies of magazines though…

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      • Yes, I like to sit and turn the pages, cut out photos and keep cuttings in a notebook. Can’t do that with the online things can you. So easily, anyway.


      • Yes, it’s very much a case of time and place with magazines fir me, and the joy of opening a new copy of my favourite one. I am quite disciplined with my monthly ones, though, which come in the post, and don’t open them till the actual month they relate to

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  5. Your garden looks lush and growing along at a good clip. And the sweet peas are so sweet and precious. I’ve never tried them before as it get so hot here, I didn’t think they’d like our summers, and our winters are too cold for starting them in the fall. What a lovely harvest you have.

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