There is no floral fragrance quite like that of the delicious sweet pea. The sweet scent combined with the vast array of colours available make it a firm favourite in late winter. But it’s not just the vibrantly hued blooms that we adore, it’s the gorgeously delicate tendrils which twist and spiral adding texture and depth to the simplest of vase arrangements.
Sweet Pea Varieties
Sweet peas are available in nearly every colour of the rainbow, from deep crimson and purple to pastel pink and lilac, and shades of cream and white. Some are bi-coloured, speckled or striped, and the gorgeous scented blooms grow on vines which can reach two metres in height.
History of Sweet Pea
In Australia, sweet peas are traditionally planted on St Patricks Day but the beautiful bloom originated as a little known wildflower in Southern Italy and Sicily. It is said that the fragrant flower delighted a Sicilian monk so much he sent sweet pea seeds to plant growers and botanical institutions throughout the world. The seeds landed in the hands of Henry Eckford, a Scottish nurseryman, who is credited for developing and hybridizing the plants, turning them from a relatively unknown wildflower into one of the most popular flowers of the Victorian era.
How to Care for Sweet Pea
Choose sweet peas that have closed but coloured buds at the top of the stem and avoid bunches which drop many petals when shaken. The stems are usually bare so the first step is to cut approximately 2cm off the ends of the stems on an angle and immediately plunge into cool water. Recut the stems, change the water and remove any spent blooms from the base every two days. Sweet peas are very sensitive to ethylene gas so keep them away from fruit, car exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke.
How to Style Sweet Pea
Sweet peas are wonderful styled on their own when their vibrant hue, delicious fragrance and delicate tendrils can be truly appreciated. Alternatively, combine them with other traditional blooms such as garden roses and freesias giving a nod to their Victorian roots.