Fill Your Garden With The Delectable Scent Of Summer for The Very Minimum Of Effort and Outlay
Just how much we adore sweet peas is impossible to convey. They flower in a sumptuous profusion of petals all summer-long. They come in every colour imaginable, you can train them up an obelisk for a smashing patio planter and they’re so useful for disguising an ugly bit of your plot you’d rather not look at. All sorts of beneficial garden insects will come buzzing to their blooms. They last for ages in a vase, and they’re cheap as chips too!
And we haven’t even started on that summery fragrance! Not all varieties are scented, so do check when you’re buying. Our favourites for sublime scent are ‘King Edward VII’ (raspberry red), ‘Almost Black’ (velvety purple), ‘Noel Sutton’ (purple) and ‘Matucana’ (red and purple), all £6.48/4 seedlings, ashridgetrees.co.uk. Sweet peas are pretty easy to grow. The trick is not to let the soil or compost dry out, so they don’t succumb to the white covering on the leaves of powdery mildew.
You’ll need to keep snipping off the fading flowers to keep the show going all summer – but this is a relaxing job for a warm evening. Now’s a great time to add these hard-working plants to your plot. For the fastest result, buy plug plants. Several mail-order suppliers, including crocus.co.uk, marshallsgarden.com and sarahraven.com, will send you a selection of named plants. May is the best month to grow sweet peas from seed, too, which will give you a much wider choice of varieties.
PICK HEALTHY PLANTS
Compact plants are better than those that have grown tall, thin and with just a few leaves, or leaves far apart on the stems. Your plants should have dark green leaves, so send back anything with yellowing, brown, mottled or discoloured leaves.
KEEP THEM ALIVE
Sweet peas love to be in the sunshine but don’t like to bake. Keep their roots cool by either keeping them shaded behind other plants or mulching the soil after planting.
HELP THEM THRIVE
To ensure a continual show of blooms throughout summer, keep snipping off fading flowers and ensure the soil stays moist. Adding plenty of well-rotted manure or compost to the soil when planting will help it retain moisture. Water thoroughly once a week or more often in very dry periods, and feed every week with a high potash liquid plant feed such as Phostrogen All Purpose Soluble Plant Food, £4.25, homebase.co.uk.
Train sweet peas up and over a corner of a shed or summerhouse. Twist some cup hook screws into the frame to run supporting strings from.
Choose compact ‘Bijou’ varieties to grow in hanging baskets.
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