Heaven is a field of sweet peas. And this is what you get when you visit Roger Parsons’ National Plant Collection of Lathyrus held near the Sussex coast south of Chichester. Every hue of red, pink, lilac, blue, purple and white scrambles up rows of netting. Classic Spencer varieties, some of which are raised by Roger, to the old varieties and the semi-grandiflora demonstrate the different forms of flower and the scent is magical. Roger grows about 10% of his collection each year mostly on netting in a field with some grown as cordons in a poly tunnel, recording each year what he grows and where.
Sweet peas self pollinate, so by the time the flower opens the seed is already forming. In order to create new varieties, Roger opens up the flower, removes the stamens, introduces pollen from the other parent, then closes up the flower.
Cream is a recessive colour to everything else and white is recessive to everything except cream. One of the best (Roger’s opinion) cream varieties is called Jilly. Even with the different spelling and the diminutive version of the name I would like to nominate this as the ‘National flower’ of Membership.
We were shown two new unnamed seedlings, one of which came from a customer who had returned some seed from a rogue flower in a packet he had bought from Roger. It’s such a good flower, he is growing it to see how it performs.
Roger also keeps and shows Miniature horses and his stallion is in the line up for Horse of the Year. Which came first? The supply of horse manure and what to do with it, or the sweet peas and a need for a supply of fertiliser?
Open Days running until next weekend (18/19th June), ring to check if there are still places 01243 673770