Six of the Best.
Our favourite sweet peas (this week anyway)
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.
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’ an old fashioned variety that has been around for 100s of years. 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!
Lathyrus odoratus ‘Our Harry.’ When we started growing sweet peas, we raised well known blue varieties such as ‘Noel Sutton’. One year at Chelsea I saw this pea across a crowded floral marquee and was immediately smitten. A very reliable, scented form with big flowers, this is the very beautiful ‘Our Harry’
Sweet Pea ‘Evening Glow’ 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 some scent and grows vigorously. Sweet Pea ‘Valerie Harrod’ is similar in colour. This is looking very healthy and full of flower on our sweet pea canes.
Grandiflora Sweet Peas are sometimes called Antique or Heritage Sweet Peas. This picture shows ‘The Major’ in the foreground with red ‘Queen Alexandra’ behind. They are smaller than their newer cousins but make very gardenworthy plants because of they produce masses of flowers and have a very strong scent.
75 varieties of sweet pea are on show in the gardens now and you can find seed available for sale in the gardens or through our online shop.
(Please note all photographs are Copyright Fred Cholmeley.)
Five years ago, Michael Marriott came over from Albrighton (where the world famous nursery is based) to advise us on our new planting. I wanted the roses to be in an informal but english setting and so we have created large circular beds for them in the long grass. Most of the roses flower once at the end of June and again in late summer. Some scramble onto large iron frames. We commissioned these from our friend Angelo and they add height to the planting. The meadows can be seen close up or from the site of the old house on the far side of the valley.
This innovative idea has been very warmly received by our visitors and we are adding to its appeal by introducing camassias, irises and other tough non-natives directly into the grass. Initially the grasses come up lush and green but by July they have yellowed and bleached creating a different background for the roses. We cut the sward with a modern allen scythe in late summer. The beds around the edges contain an important lilac collection and we have added stands of silver birch and other small trees.
Gertrude Jekyll and other popular roses are available to buy in our nursery area. Our most sought after roses include Veichenblau, The Generous Gardener, Malvern Hills and The Mayflower.