Where to plant sweet peas
The best scented sweet peas
Lathyrus ‘Albutt Blue’
A delicate picotee with a spectacular scent, the subtle and soft bluish purple edgings create a charming picture. Prolific, and good scrambling through a winter jasmine by the front door. Spencer hybrid.
Dating as far back as 1896 and still delightful, the flowers are prettily patterned. Plants with no white may appear; if so, buy from a different supplier next time. Grandiflora hybrid. AGM*. RHS H4†.
Descended from the original wild sweet pea, with an exceptional fragrance, this is the one to add to a poorly scented bouquet for a boost. Grandiflora hybrid.
This unique reverse bicoloured variety switches the usual arrangement and features pale pinkish lavender standards
above rich blue wings. Derived in part from the Turkish species Lathyrus belinensis.
Lathyrus ‘Karen Louise’
Powerfully scented, ‘Karen Louise’ has large, beautifully waved flowers, shading to white at the very centre, and carried on
strong stems, making it ideal in both the garden and the vase. Spencer hybrid.
Lathyrus ‘Janet Scott’
Dating back to 1903, this simple classical heirloom in soft salmon pink has a hooded standard that creates the impression
of an unusually substantial flower. Grandiflora hybrid. AGM. RHS H4.
Lathyrus ‘Black Knight’
More a sort of chocolate bronze maroon, with a little purple often gleaming in the wings of the flower. Not clearly visible from a distance unless seen against silver or gold foliage. Grandiflora hybrid.
Raised by Victoria Wakefield at her Bramdean garden in Hampshire, this new cultivar in the old Grandiflora style is pure white, with a faint pink blush in some conditions. Modern grandiflora hybrid. AGM.
Lathyrus ‘Fire and Ice’
Another bicoloured variety in the old-fashioned style. At its best ‘Fire and Ice’ has pink to red upper petals and lilac blue wings. Very vigorous. Modern grandiflora hybrid.
Lathyrus ‘Flora Norton’
This classic, pale blue, old-fashioned heirloom sweet pea dates back to 1905. The purity of its simple colouring is enchanting and it features unusually large wings and relatively small seeds – though they germinate well. Grandiflora hybrid. AGM. RHS H4.
Lathyrus ‘King Edward VII’ (pictured)
This vivid crimson red antique variety, introduced by the great Henry Eckford in 1903, is one of the best heirloom varieties in stronger colours and certainly the best red. Grandiflora hybrid. AGM. RHS H4.
Lathyrus ‘Mrs Collier’
Once described overenthusiastically as ‘primrose’, the yellow buds open to creamy white flowers. With its especially strong scent this is one of the essential antique varieties. Grandiflora hybrid.
*AGM Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
† Hardiness rating given where known.
The Sweet Pea Book by Graham Rice (Batsford) is aimed at gardeners rather than exhibitors.
There’s also Sweet Peas: An Essential Guide by Roger Parsons (Crowood).
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