Rich pickings

I have been on leave from work for the last week to do some gardening and prepare for a party on the Opening Night of the Olympics.  Favoured by the first decent weather of the summer, the weeds were almost conquered and the last of the Plant Exchange gifts planted out, but one of the most enjoyable jobs has been the daily harvesting of sweet peas.

Daily pickings

I have always grown sweet peas, initially inspired by my father who grew enough for my mother to sell bunches of them in the corner shop.  But this year has produced a bumper crop of blooms with long stems and multiple heads – Nature or Nurture?  I bought seeds from Roger Parsons, Collection Holder of Lathyrus, at our AGM in Sussex last year and again when I visited him on an Open Day last June.  Following his instructions the seeds were planted in the autumn and overwintered outside through the snow.   For less than the cost of a small bouquet of florist’s flowers, five packets of seeds have been flowering for two months.  Albeit slow to start because of the cold, wind and rain, the last couple of weeks have produced a daily crop to fill my house with colour and scent, with enough to give away to family and friends.

Arranged formally

Arranged in a foil of Alchemilla mollis

or

Plonked in a vase

the effect is breathtaking.

I had chosen three named cultivars; ‘Bristol’, (one of my boys was at university there) a beautiful solid blue, ‘Jilly’, (for the membership team of Gill and myself) a rich cream and ‘Albutt Blue’, white edged with blue. For variety I added a packets of mixed Spencer and semi grandiflora.

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For next year I am going to try to save some seed from the strongest plants and I bought some different cultivars from Roger earlier this month at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
And the Opening Night of the Olympics?  Blessed by good weather all went well and Genevieve introduced Mercy to table tennis.

Members of team PH – volunteers and employees past and present – Michele, Judith, Nicola, Sarah and Mercy.

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