Sweet peas enchant us with their fragile, seductive fragrance and make great bouquets. These pea-like flowers grow in many lovely colors and are suitable for an annual border, a woodland garden, and a trellis or arch.
“Here are sweet peas,on tip-toe for a flight
With wings of gentle flusho’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catchingat all things
To bind them all aboutwith tiny rings.”
–John Keats (1795–1821)
Cultivated sweet peas go back at least 300 years. In their native Sicily, these ornamental peas have weak stems and intense orange-jasmine-honey scent. Modern hybrids are stronger-stalked and have larger blooms.
Growing sweet peas is akin to making piecrust. Some people have the knack, others don’t. Sweet peas are quite hardy, growing from large, easy-to-handle pea-like seeds. Still, they’re a bit tricky because they are slow to germinate. It’s worth experimenting with different seeds each year.