The sweet pea originated in Malta, where it grew in the wild, before being introduced to Sicily. In 1699, a Sicilian priest Francis Cupani sent some seeds to Dr Uvedale in England. These small highly scented flowers of Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cupani’ were bi-colored with maroon-purple standard and magenta-purple wings. It is thought that ‘Painted Lady’ sweet pea (1723) with its pink and white bi-colored flowers is a sport or ‘mutation’ from the original maroon-purple sweet pea.
Our method of growing old fashioned sweet peas
- We save seed each year, but also purchase trade packets of 10gms of ‘Cupani’ and ‘Painted Lady’
- The seeds are cold sown (in winter) after ‘chipping’ a small section of the outer seed coat. We sow 5 seeds to a 9cm pot. After germination the seedlings are grown on (protect against vermin like mice), before being transplanted to Clematis pots and supported with a wig-wam of small hazel sticks
- The pots are planted out in late April-May, around wig-wams of hazels. Usually I mass plant at least 10 pots of five plants around each structure – in both the Kitchen Garden and the Exedra Garden
- In good sweet pea growing conditions – mixture of rain and sunshine – they should easily cover the framework
- Keep cutting the wonderfully scented flowers. We use them on the tables in the Restaurant and in a vase in the Bothy to give the rooms a special fragrance