Article Written By: Sue Both
In 1699, Francisco Cupani, a monk and member of the order of St. Francis, strolled through the pastures of his native island of Sicily. The setting sun painted a water colour picture of warm pastels on the distant horizon.
Francisco filled his lungs with the cool fresh spring air and his nose caught a sweet and pleasant scent. Being an inquisitive naturalist, he followed the scent, keen to discover its origin.
His nose lead him to small, richly coloured scented flowers. Cupani carefully collected the seeds and sent them to his friend and fellow naturalist, Dr. Robert Uveldale, a schoolmaster in Enfield, England, who then cultivated the first Sweet Peas (Lathyrus ordoratus). These original Sweet Peas are known by the name ‘Cupani’ or ‘Cupani Original’.
Over the next century the few seeds sent by Cupani to his friend slowly multiplied and spread their delightful fragrance into gardens all over England and Europe. In the 1800’s a Scotsman, Henry Eckford cultivated the grandiflora strain with larger flowers in a wide range of colours.
This easy growing, attractive plant grew in popularity and today many varietals are available. Not only is the Sweet Pea blessed with a delightful fragrance, but it also makes an excellent long-lasting cut flower.
March and April is the time to get those Sweet Pea seeds into the soil. You will find a great selection of Sweet Pea Seeds at your nearest GardenShop – Some varieties are climbing and others bush. You can even get packets of single colour seeds if you need to match an existing colour scheme in your garden.
For best results with Sweet Peas, soak the seeds overnight in water. Plant in a sunny position in soil prepared with compost and 3:1:5 fertilizer. Seeds should be inserted about 2cm below the surface of the soil. Safeguard young seedlings from hungry birds with a protective cover. For optimum blooms feed plants every 2 weeks with Multifeed Flower.
Remember – the more flowers you pick from the plants the more flowers they will yield.
May these seductive flowers germinate in your heart and grow into a life-long love affair!