Posts Tagged ‘Sweet Pea’

Mr Fothergill’s Names its New Sweet Pea Mayflower 400

January 27th, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

Leading sweet pea seed supplier Mr Fothergill’s has introduced a new and exclusive ‘Spencer’ variety for the forthcoming season as part of the 400th-anniversary commemoration of the sailing of the Mayflower to the new world in 1620. Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 (RRP £2.40 for 20 seeds) is a ‘Spencer’ type, bred by world-renowned hybridiser Keith Hammett, and produces frilly flowers in a pastel pink flake on a cream background. It is vigorous and free-flowering, with a medium scent.

The Mayflower transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth to the ‘New World’ of America in 1620. All 102 passengers, from England and Holland, established a Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.

Their story is one of suffering and survival in a harsh environment. The Voyage is one of the most famous in early American history.

Mr Fothergill’s Commercial Director, Tim Jeffries said, “We are delighted to be able to introduce this wonderful Sweet Pea from renowned breeder, Keith Hammett. By naming it as ‘Mayflower 400’ we and the gardening public can play a part in celebrations planned for 2020.”

Chief Executive of Mayflower 400, Charles Hackett commented on the new sweet pea, “I am delighted that the commemoration of the Mayflower’s voyage will be marked by having its own sweet pea named ‘Mayflower 400’. The breadth of events and activities marking this historic voyage is incredible and to have our own sweet pea flowering in the commemoration year will add another unique aspect to the year of the Mayflower 400.”

Sweet pea is available from Mr Fothergill’s retail stockists throughout the UK and from the company’s latest Seed Catalogue or online. Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to mr-fothergills.co.uk.

Sweet peas can take the cold

January 3rd, 2020 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sweet peas 'Blue Shift', 'Spanish Dancer', 'Erewhon' and 'Gwendoline'

I’m always bashing on here about how important it is to sow sweet pea seeds in the autumn, to grow the strongest plants that will flower for the longest possible time. But you know what? It doesn’t always happen. Life gets in the way.

But if you have any sort of protection – a cold frame, some plastic cloches, even a low fleece tunnel you used to keep carrot fly off the carrots – anything that provides a little protection will help January sown sweet pea seeds germinate a little more quickly and grow a little more strongly.

And here’s something to think about. In 1909, at Cornell University in New York state, they sowed a sweet pea trial. They sowed the seed in succession in October and November, and some of it germinated before winter set in while some germinated in the following April.

But here’s the thing. New York state is cold in the winter, far far colder than here. We’re talking about temperatures getting down to -23C to -29C. And whether the seeds germinated before the winter or later, they flowered the following summer. This proves they can take the cold.

I’d suggest sowing in 12cm pots, six seeds in each, and standing them under the cloches or fleece. To be honest, slugs and mice will be more of a danger than cold so be sure to take precautions.

Varieties? Well, the new and exclusive varieties like ‘Mayflower 400’ and ‘Our Harry’ might well sell out so they should be high on the list to order and sow now. There’s also one you should never be without, ‘Gwendoline’ (bottom left), for its beautiful colouring and powerful fragrance.

I’d also remind you about three varieties in unusual colourings that I recommend. ‘Blue Shift’ (top left) changes colour from reddish mauve to true blue, ‘Spanish Dancer’ in cream (almost yellow) and rich and rosy reddish pink and finally ‘Erewhon’, a reverse bicolour with purplish blue lower petals and pink upper petals.

All are well scented and won’t disappoint. Just be sure to keep the slugs and snails off.

Patio sweet pea mysteries

November 1st, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sweet Pea 'Balcony Mix' and 'Teresa Maureen' (inset)

Something slightly odd has been happening with sweet peas recently. It’s not so very long ago that the genuinely dwarf varieties, especially ‘Cupid’ and varieties like it that only grew about 15cm high, were widely popular. I remember going to visit a wholesale grower a few years back and he had many thousands of potfuls ready to go to garden centres. But they’ve mostly disappeared.

On top of that, the medium height patio varieties reaching about 90cm and ideal for tubs and other containers… Well, they haven’t disappeared altogether but there are far fewer around then there used to be. But there are some.

One of the prettiest of all sweet peas falls into this category. ‘Teresa Maureen’ (inset, above) reaches about 1m in height and although the flowers are small they’re both prolific and strongly scented – and such a lovely combination of purple tints, veins and picotee set against a white background.

The other patio sweet pea to look out for is ‘Balcony Mix’ (background, above). This is a blend featuring fragrant white flowers prettily patterned in a range of stripes and streaks.

The other unexpected thing about these plants, apart from the fact that relatively few varieties are now available, is that they’ve been particularly recommended for sowing later than other sweet peas. Sow now, by all means, but seed can also be sown in January as long as you have a cold frame or even simply a cloche (not to mention a mousetrap and organic slug pellets) to provide protection.

For these shorter varieties that have a less extensive root system as well as shorter top growth, I sow five or six seeds in 12cm pots and plant the whole pot in a container in spring. This is the way to grow sweet peas in small spaces.

Mr Fothergill’s launches new Sweet Pea Mayflower 400

August 19th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill's Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 commemorates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s pioneering voyageAt its August Press Day, leading sweet pea seed supplier Mr Fothergill’s introduced a new and exclusive Spencer variety for the forthcoming season as part of the 400th anniversary commemoration of the sailing of the Mayflower to the new world in 1620. Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 (RRP £2.40 for 20 seeds) is a Spencer type, bred by world renowned hybridiser Keith Hammett, and produces frilly flowers in a pastel pink flake on a cream background. It is vigorous and free flowering, with a high scent.

The Mayflower transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth to the ‘New World’ of America in 1620. All 102 passengers, from England and Holland, established a Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Their story is one of suffering and survival in a harsh environment.  The Voyage is one of the most famous in early American history.

John Stirland naming Sweet Pea Mayflower 400 at Mr Fothergill's Press Day 2019

Mr Fothergill’s Commercial Director, Tim Jeffries said, “A full and exciting programme of events is being planned for 2020 to celebrate the sailing of the Mayflower. We are delighted to have a great relationship with breeder Keith Hammett to obtain this wonderful sweet pea Mayflower 400 and by introducing it now gardeners can celebrate with blooms in the anniversary year.”

Chief Executive of Mayflower 400, Charles Hackett commented on the new sweet pea, “I am delighted that the commemoration of the Mayflower’s voyage will be marked by having its own sweet pea named “Mayflower 400”. The breadth of events and activities marking this historic voyage is incredible and to have our own sweet pea flowering in the commemoration year will add another unique aspect to the year of the Mayflower 400.”

Sweet pea seeds are available from Mr Fothergill’s retail stockists throughout the UK and from the company’s latest Seed Catalogue or online. Visit your local garden centre for the full range or head over to mr-fothergills.co.uk.

Ways with watering

July 5th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Sweet peas appreciate plenty of water

“Watering requires more care than is often given to it.” As we look back over a hundred years, so we read in the introduction to the fine old Annual & Biennial Garden Plants by A. E. Speer published in 1911.

“In dry weather a little sprinkling does more harm very often than good. The roots are attracted to the surface only to be burnt up by the hot rays of the sun. When watering do it thoroughly, so that it may go down to the roots, and not the roots up to the moisture.

“Some annuals, like Sweet Peas, especially if grown for exhibition, require copious watering, and occasionally with a little liquid manure added. Always water after the sun is off the plants; and it may be added, rain-water saved from a tub is preferable to water from a pipe. It is softer and not so cold.”

Good advice. My approach is to enrich the soil with organic matter by mulching and working in weed-free compost when planting so the soil retains as much moisture as possible.

I’m also very keen on spot watering and spot feeding individual plants as they need it. Tomatoes, courgettes, outdoor cucumbers, sweet peas and dahlias in particular appreciate a regular drench and to make this easier, when planting, I create a shallow dip into which the plants are set. This collects water and feed where it’s needed and prevents it running away across the border.

The good Mr Speer is right when he says that “pipe” water can be very cold. But it’s also good to remember that the water in a hose pipe left out in the sun can also get very hot. Some gardeners line up filled watering cans one day for use the next, allowing the water to warm up.

Me? I think it’s more important to do it rather than not, and not to worry too much about the temperature. Either way, you’ll see the difference.