One of the most prized of all annuals. The original
species is a native of southern Europe, but it
is to the many varieties of garden origin that
the Sweet Pea owes its popularity.
Of climbing habit, growing six to ten feet high,
Lathyrus odoratus has oval and rounded foliage that
varies in size according to the cultivation given.
The flowers are of the familiar keeled pea shape,
tow or more on a stem and varying in colour from
white to practically all shades except true blue
The plant climbs by means of tendrils.
For ordinary garden cultivation, the seed may
be sown in the late summer in pots, wintered in
a cold frame and planted out in March in deeply
cultivated ground that has been limed and well
fed with organic manure.
Peasticks or canes are necessary for support.
Seed may also be sown in late March out-of-doors,
spaced about six inches apart and given support.
Lathyrus latifolius, the everlasting pea, is
a hardy perennial obtainable in white, pink or
The flowering season is from midsummer onwards.
From four to seven or eight feet.
Flowers of many colours, May to October.
For beauty of form and colour, sweetness, comparative
ease of growth, and the length of time during
which they may be had in flower, no other annual
can compare with them.
The best and simplest plan of growing them, for
all average soils and climates, is to treat them
exactly like kitchen peas.
Sowing on turf and in boxes, and forwarding under
glass may be necessary where slugs or other vermin
make it impossible to raise seedlings in the open;
but where the conditions allow, sow the seed in
the ground without any protection, between the
middle of February and the middle of March, according
to latitude and weather conditions.
A second sowing, for later flowering, may be put
in in April.
Autumn sowing is a risk, to be run for the chance
of early bloom, but except in very mild climates
it should never be entirely depended on.
The ground must be thoroughly good in heart; dig
in early in the winter, if practicable, plenty
of rotten manure, leaf-mould and pond-mud if procurable;
for a row of peas, manure a strip of ground at
least a yard wide and two spits deep; do not take
out a trench a spade wide and manure the bottom.
Let the ground settle, or tread in firm.
In spring make a shallow trench, two inches deep
and the width of the spade; spread the seeds thinly
(two to three inches apart) over the bottom of
the trench after having covered them with red
lead powder to preserve them from mice.
(Put the peas in an old tin, sprinkle them lightly
with water, shake in red lead powder, and toss
and stir until every pea is covered; this is an
absolutely efficacious preventative).
Before the peas begin to appear, wire pea-guards,
or other efficient defence against sparrows must
be placed over the row.
As the plants advance, earth them up carefully,
and replace the guards until it is time to give
The latter should be tall, flat-cut hazel-boughs,
seven feet out of the ground; drive in firmly
six inches outside the peas on each side.
In dry weather, give abundance of water, say a
gallon to every yard, and mulch with short litter.
The flowers must not be allowed to seed, if a
continuance of bloom is required.
With good, deep soil, thin sowing, and constant
picking off of dead flowers, the plants should
afford bloom till September; but in a dry summer
it is difficult to carry them over August.
As a rule a compromise is best; they may be allowed
to seed when the finest display is over, and a
harvest obtained for next year’s sowing.
Do not, however, depend wholly on home-grown seed;
always import some new strains from a good house.
The easiest way to grow Sweet Peas is in lines
across the garden, like kitchen peas.
Clumps of separate colours have a beautiful effect;
for these the seed should be sown in a circular
trench about a yard in diameter, with the centre
vacant – not merely in a round patch –
protected and supported in the same way as the
There are a great number of named kinds, many
of which are hardly distinguishable.
The following are all first-rate:
Blanche Burpee, white.
Boreatton, dark bronze and purple.
Captain of the Blues, deep blue.
Countess of Radnor, mauve.
Coccinea, bright cherry.
Countess of Powys, purple and orange.
Eliza Eckford, rosy pink.
Hon. Mrs. Kenyon, pale yellow.
Her Majesty, rose.
Jeannie Gordon, cream and rose.
King Edward VII., very large crimson.
Lady Nina Balfour, mauve.
Lady Grisel Hamilton, lilac.
Lottie Eckford, mauve and white.
Mars, fiery crimson.
Orange Prince, pink and orange.
Salopian, crimson and mulberry.
Waverley, claret and light blue.
See also : Lathyrus