Thursday, April 16, 2009
Sweet, sweet peas
I am not sure what made me think of sweet peas in the middle of Easter.
Perhaps it was the arrival of some special seed (not sweet peas!) from that doyen of New Zealand plant breeders Dr Keith Hammett. A friend generously shared some Amaryllis belladonna seed he had received from the good doctor, and perhaps it made me think of Keith’s work with sweet peas. I was also cutting back some Hammett-bred dahlias, and taking cuttings from some of his pinks, so perhaps that was what caused it.
Or maybe it was removing the last of the climbing beans from their frame. It may have spurred me to think about planting sweet peas along the frame as a crop for late spring/early summer. They have flourished on the frame in years past, although it has been a few seasons since I planted them there.
Then, of course, there was that wonderful edition of Country Calendar showing the Gisborne ladies who grow crops of sweet peas for seed, on contract to British seed merchants. The sight of row after row of gloriously coloured flowers might have been the trigger.
It could just have been guilt though.
I normally pick out some special sweet pea seed from one of the seed companies that sell by individual colours, and then sow them in the glasshouse on March 17. That date is easy to remember – it is the Head Gardeners birthday – so I nearly always remember. But this year, with lots of running around with other things, it slipped my mind. So I made a special trip to the garden centre to pick up some punnets of ‘Fragrant Cloud’ sweet peas and carefully planted them in the soil under the climbing frame.