Six of the best scented sweet peas

Six of the best scented sweet peas.

These are some of our favourite sweet peas. They have a great scent and are reliably good varieties. Every year we grow 50 or so cultivars. Through experience  we have found the best sweet peas for cutting and growing in the garden. When a sweet pea variety starts to wane (as they all do except for some of the remarkable very old sweet peas) we will trial similar colours and replace one with the other. Linda Carole (see below) is an excellent example of this.

Linda Carole 2012

Lathyrus odoratus  ‘Linda Carole’

Launched by Derek Heathcote who has produced some fine varieties since he started his business in 1992. This striking flower is similar to ‘Mars’ but seems to come better from seed. It has a carmine stripe and a delicate line outlining the white background (called a ‘picotee’ in sweet pea speak). Very good scent for a new variety. We have grown Linda Carole for about four years and particularly recommend it for cutting.

Matucana

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’

An old fashioned variety that has been around for hundreds of years. It is perhaps the most famous of the really fragrant sweet peas. The flower is smaller than the modern varieties but what it lacks in size it makes up for with an amazing scent. 10/10 on the smellometer!  Lots of flowers on a bushy plant. Add the flowers to a larger bouquet by tucking them into the back and the scent will weave through the posy.

Our Harry 1

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Our Harry.’

When we started growing sweet peas, we raised well known blue varieties such as ‘Noel Sutton’. One year at the Chelsea Flower Show,  I saw this pea across a crowded floral marquee and was immediately smitten. A scented blue sweet pea with big flowers, the clean translucent colour really appeals to me. A number of similar blue sweet peas have appeared on the market recently so we have decided to allocate a trial bed for blue sweet peas for 2019. It will be interesting to see if the quality and scent can match the beautiful ‘Our Harry’.

Sweet Pea Evening Glow (6)

Sweet Pea ‘Valerie Harrod.’

is a notable addition to any sweet pea collection as it has a peachy tone in its soft pink flowers that is absent from most other peas. This is a connoisseurs sweet pea. It has good scent for a Spencer sweet pea, produces big beautiful flowers and grows vigorously. Sweet Pea ‘Evening Glow’ is similar in colour. Mix in a bunch with pastels or go for complementary colours such as ‘Our Harry’ or ‘Kingfisher.’ This is looking very healthy and full of flower on our sweet pea supports.

EWG 5.7.12 (170)

Grandiflora Sweet Peas 

The very old sweet pea varieties are quite remarkable.  They may be called Grandiflora Sweet Peas, Antique Sweet Peas or Heritage Sweet Peas. They have smaller flowers than modern or spencer varieties but they are exceptionally gardenworthy because their plants are so bushy and packed with lots of flowers. They are also the best sweet pea for containers. Their standout quality is the remarkable amount of scent they produce so if you want the best scented sweet peas then grandifloras are the ones to grow. This picture shows ‘The Major’ in the foreground with red ‘Queen Alexandra’ behind.

Over 50 varieties of sweet pea are on show in the gardens and you can find our handpicked collection of sweet pea seed available for sale in the gardens or through our online shop.

 

British Flowers

British Flowers Week

It is British Flowers Week in the UK. An event runs from 19th-25th June 2017 and is all about celebrating British Flowers and our cut flower industry. It is also an excuse to feature some of our most gorgeous flowers for cutting on the blog.

The Cut Flower Garden or Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens
The Cut Flower Garden or Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens

Here are seven favourites from the hundreds of cut flowers we grow in our Pickery every year. Do you agree? Let us know via our facebook page, twitter or instagram where we post as @ewgardens If you would like more information on any of the flowers shown tweet us and we will do all we can to help.

Our Top 7 UK flowers for cutting:

  1. From the hardy Perennials:

Astrantia

Astrantia in the Cottage Garden at Easton Walled Gardens
Astrantia in the Cottage Garden at Easton Walled Gardens

The ‘star’ flower and the only hardy perennial on this list. Flowers in May and early June and again later if you cut it back hard. The flowers can be used for arrangements immediately or dried for winter use.

Other perennials that will give you great results for the cutting garden include Geum ‘Mrs Bradshaw” (keep cutting and it will flower almost continuously through the summer) , Coreopsis grandiflora and the perennial rudbeckias.

2. From the mass of daffodils you can choose we have picked:

Narcissus ‘Sir Winston Churchill’

Narcissus 'Sir Winston Churhchill' flourishes in short grass
Narcissus ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ flourishes in short grass

A multi-headed, easy to grow daffodil flowering in mid April. I have chosen this variety because of its beautiful cream double flowers flecked with smaller petals the colours of a peach melba. But what really makes this daffodil exceptional is its sweet scent. There is nothing cloying about the scent – it is very clean. Hard to believe a daffodil can smell this good!

Narcissus 'Sir Winston Churchill' in the courtyard
Narcissus ‘Sir Winston Churchill’ in the courtyard

3. Sweet Peas

Lathyrus odoratus

EWG 1.7.14.-40 Sweet Pea heaven at Easton Walled Gardens

The queen of the cut flower garden. It was too hard to chose a favourite from the 100 varieties we grow every year so here is a general guide: If you want really strong scent chose a grandiflora such as ‘America’, if you want really big flowers chose a modern variety such as ‘Gwendoline.’ If you want lots of garden flowers and all the scent, choose a semi-grandiflora such as ‘Albutt Blue’, ‘Watermelon’ or ‘Kingfisher.’

100 varieties of sweet peas are grown in our Pickery every year.
100 varieties of sweet peas are grown in our Pickery every year.

For more information on sweet peas click any of the links below:

Our six favourite sweet peas

Visiting our sweet peas

Growing your own sweet pea tips

Autumn sown sweet peas

4. Clary Sage

Salvia horminum

Salvia horminum or Clary Sage in the pickery at Easton Walled Gardens
Salvia horminum or Clary Sage in the pickery at Easton Walled Gardens

Overlooked by big commercial growers but exceptionally good for growing on an allotment or smallholding, this sage is a great favourite with visitors once it starts to flower in June. The colour comes from adapted leaves or bracts; the flowers themselves are tiny. Use the white form for delicate posies of white and green. I think the pink forms are harder to use but the blue adds zest to any arrangement. Once it starts to flop, cut hard back and it will spring back for another round of late colour.

Blue Clary Sage is great with sweet peas and cornflowers
Blue Clary Sage is great with sweet peas and cornflowers

5. Sunflowers

Sunflower ‘Earthwalker’

Sunflower 'Earthwalker' with fennel
Sunflower ‘Earthwalker’ with fennel

A branching, tawny sunflower that throws many superb flowerheads perfect for cutting on a grand scale. If you just love them for the garden this is an excellent variety for the back of a border and the goldfinches will love the seed heads.

Late summer in the Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens
Late summer in the Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens

6. Zinnia

Large headed rather than bedding zinnias are best for cutting. They come in mixes such as Early Wonder, Giant Scabious mix and the individual colours can be found in the Benary series.

Red Zinnia at Easton Walled Gardens

Zinnias last for ages in water and can be used to bring an exotic flavour to your arrangements. We sow in May and harvest from mid august until the first hard frosts. Increasingly we use these strong flowers to combine with soft grasses.

Pennisetum bedded with Zinnias has created a fascinating combination that visitors love.
Pennisetum bedded out with Zinnias has created a fascinating combination that visitors love.

7. Dahlias

Dahlia ‘Honka Red’

Dahlias 'Tutu' and 'Honka Red'
Dahlias ‘Tutu’ and ‘Honka Red’

This is a fabulous, long flowering dahlia for striking arrangements. The tubers last well over winter when lifted and provide a continuous flow of flowers from August to October. The red is particularly good with the yellows and orange hues of autumn.

Dahlias in the Pickery
Dahlias in the Pickery

Garden Shows

Garden Shows and Show Gardens

It’s the garden shows season and the Royal Horticultural Society, North of England Horticultural Society, Gardeners World and Gardens Illustrated are all holding shows in England. In Scotland, Rural Projects stage Gardening Scotland in early June.

Picture by Mark Waugh / RHS
Picture by Mark Waugh / RHS

Throughout the season, organisers make a real effort to keep the emphasis on horticulture. Lifestyle, food and craft shopping are an essential feature for many visitors but the heart of every show relies, for its integrity, on our independent nurseries: Hartside Nurseries at Harrogate or Dysons Salvias at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show for instance.

RHS Chatsworth

This year there is a new show: The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show sponsored by Wedgwood.

Picture by Mark Waugh / RHS
Picture by Mark Waugh / RHS

For many tourist attractions, our gardens included, Chatsworth sets the gold standard for tourists and visitors seeking an excellent customer experience. I love porcelain and bone china and, of course, I am potty about plants so this was a dream combination for me.

Wedgwood tearoom at RHS Chatsworth
Wedgwood tearoom at RHS Chatsworth

Despite the teething problems (traffic, dealing with the extremes of british weather and untested structures,) this new show ought to become a firm fixture in the show calendar. It was a sell out, the setting was unbeatable and some big names featured in the exhibitors and show garden areas.

Trends in Show Gardens

The trend seen at RHS Chelsea continued at Chatsworth; stylised recreations of pastures, uplands and shady copses were everywhere. This is great news for us as it is a style of gardening that we embrace. It’s wild gardening in the best sense. It is floral, creates complex tapestries that take a while to look at and take in and, crucially, it also encourages the small things to thrive in the garden.

Picture by Mark Waugh / RHS
Jo Thompson’s beautiful garden at RHS Chatsworth. Picture by Mark Waugh / RHS

‘Natural gardens’ like these create a peaceful atmosphere, increased birdsong and, with so much wild activity, they encourage the visitor or gardener to feel they are part of something and not merely an observer. Chemicals, in most cases, become unnecessary. It’s not a low maintenance option and hand weeding is essential from early spring until mid july. It’s good to see the RHS and garden designers helping to explain to some garden visitors that wild flowers are not ‘weeds’.

June in the Cedar Meadow at Easton Walled Gardens
June in the Cedar Meadow at Easton Walled Gardens
Dahlias and grasses in the cutflower garden or Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens
Dahlias and grasses in the cutflower garden or Pickery at Easton Walled Gardens
The rose meadow at Easton Walled Gardens
Rose meadows at Easton Walled Gardens