Essential new sweet peas

October 6th, 2017 | Nation of Gardeners | 0 Comments

Sweet Pea 'Little Red Riding Hood' (left) and 'Turquoise Lagoon'

Prime sowing time for sweet peas is fast approaching, so let’s take a look at this year’s new introductions.

The highlight for this coming season is ‘Lady Salisbury’, a super-scented blend of cream and white varieties with blue and mauve picotees. I discussed this here last week.

Also new this year are two superb varieties from renowned New Zealand sweet pea breeder Keith Hammett, two varieties where seed has been scarce in the past so it’s not been possible to offer them until now. Mr F sells so much sweet pea seed that huge sacks of each variety are essential!

‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (above left) is unique in combining its dramatic colouring with a powerful fragrance. With pale cherry red upper petals (standards) and faintly blushed white lower petals (wings), it’s unlike any other sweet pea and, as with so many of Keith Hammett’s varieties, the scent is superb.

I’ve grown this on and off over the years, whenever I could get hold of seeds, and I’ll be growing it again for the coming season. It always grabs the attention in a posy.

The other newcomer is another unique variety from Keith Hammett, ‘Turquoise Lagoon’. The flowers open mauve and then mature to turquoise, a unique metamorphosis which is always intriguing, with different flowers at different stages in their maturity at the same time. This was one of a number of surprises in the unending quest for a yellow sweet pea, and this too has outstanding scent.

Finally, can I just draw your attention to a couple of last year’s introductions that may have crept under your radar.

‘Maloy’ is the first reverse bicolour in the reddish-orange colour range, the standards are apricot pink and the wings are a vibrant orange pink. Another from Keith Hammett, with his trademark fragrance.

And then a re-introduction of a variety first released by the great Henry Eckford back in 1885. The powerfully scented ‘Queen Of The Isles’ was described like this in 1914: “It has a bright red stripe on a white ground standard, as in ‘America’, but the wings have a clear magenta stripe, a peculiar colouring seen in no other variety.” Well worth growing.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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