My hubby’s favourite vegetables are green peas. He calls them the Vegetables of Heaven. I like them well enough, and serve them regularly, along with snow peas, and sugar or snap peas, but I far prefer Sweet Peas… ‘though not to eat, of course.
The wonderful sweet scent of heritage Sweet Peas brings back memories of my childhood… plucking the long stems from six foot high plants that scaled netting stapled to the back fence. Sly curling tentacles clung to the netting and each other, reluctant to release their grip, and too often a petal would break off as my clumsy young fingers pulled them away. They were my mother’s favourite flower… at least, that’s what she once told me. She liked lots of different flowers, but didn’t attempt to grow many. She wasn’t a gardener at heart.
My grandmother was the gardener. The scent I most associate with my grandmother is the white Nicotiana alata that grew in a planter next to her front door. I remember it giving off a heady sweet fragrance, especially in the early evenings as the grownups sat chatting on the lawn after dinner and my cousins and I played tag around their chairs.
But the Sweet Peas’ fragrance is gentle, its blooms fragile… velvety soft petals in pastel shades intermingled on the vines with others of more vibrant hues. Although not the varieties we know today, Sweet Peas have been around for more than three hundred years, which may be why there’s an old-fashioned aura to them. A monk discovered an early variety growing wild on the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean in the mid-1600s.
I usually don’t plant mine early enough and summer catches them before they’ve developed well enough to withstand the heat. This year I planted a four foot ‘Knee High’ variety in a pot on the deck, and popped a clear plastic garbage bag over it every night for weeks to act as a greenhouse. The plants are over five feet now, and they’ve just begun to bloom. These photos are of the first three blossoms.
My heart is smiling.
Do you have a favourite flower, and are there particular flowers that convey special memories to you?
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