Friday, April 20, 2012

paltry in pink

A little over a year ago, I complained about the limited range of color in my 2011 sweet pea crop, which had actually started blooming at the end of November 2010 with a dark purple volunteer and eventually produced a few pink flowers. The pink ones may have been volunteers, or may have come from the saved seed I'd planted. One thing is certain, however: there were absolutely NO Blue Celeste sweet peas to be seen. Alas! Blue Celeste was the one variety I'd planted out of a commercial seed packet.

After mulching the front garden lavishly with spent sweet pea vines, I thought I'd get a good showing of volunteers. Sure enough, as soon as the first rains came along in October, I saw sweet peas coming up among the naturalized freesias and calla lilies. Only two came up along the chain link fence where I'd planted sweet peas in the past, but, having read somewhere that it's okay to let sweet peas sprawl about on the ground, I decided to leave things as they were and not plant any sweet pea seeds for the fring-winter-spring season on 2011-12.

Now that April is more than half over, the volunteer sweet peas along the fence have barely started to bloom. They're pale pink, with short stems, and the vines are less than two feet tall. Nary a one of the sprawling sweet peas in the front garden has managed to bloom, but some are reaching over a foot long, so I haven't exactly given up hope. If they do bloom, they should deflect attention from the drying freesia leaves, and if they don't bloom, they'll continue to 'fix' nitrogen in their magically fabaceous way. This is a sort of "win-win" situation, but the score is not high.

Years ago (like in the late 70s when magazines came in the mail), Sunset Magazine informed me in a somewhat authoritarian tone that if I wanted sweet peas for Thanksgiving I should be ready to plant them in September. "Who wants spring flowers for a fall festival?" I asked myself. But after we put in our chain link fence, I was hooked on vines.

Though preoccupied with perennial sweet peas and the quasi-perennial hyacinth bean for the last couple of years, I must admit that I miss the conventional sweet pea's fragrant frilliness. In early October, I'll be out there with my saved seed and will even give Blue Celeste another chance

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License