Sweet peas: Growing tips and where to buy the best range of seeds
Sweet pea cultivars from Easton Walled Garden in Lincolnshire, plus growing tips and where to buy the best selection of sweet pea seeds. Words Ursula Cholmeley, photos Andrew Montgomery
Growing tips for sweet peas
Sweet peas germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die in one annual cycle. At Easton, we harvest and dry the seed in late August, and sow the first batch into root trainers in October in an unheated glasshouse. The last warm rays of autumn will give them the kick they need to germinate.
Once the seedlings appear we keep them as cold as possible, leaving them outside and only bringing them in during a hoar frost. This gives the plants time to produce long, strong roots. Big roots are the key to a fine sweet pea crop.
We prepare beds with lots of manure; we find that green manure sown in September is the best soil conditioner for our young plants before they are planted out in early March. Green manure prevents nutrients leaching out of the top layers of soil and gives our plants a head start.
Easton Walled Gardens is a 12-acre garden in a quiet part of Lincolnshire. It’s been maintained by the Cholmeley family and their gardeners for at least 400 years. More recently, the family discovered that sweet peas grow very well in the garden and they now grow more than 100 cultivars for display and cutting and they harvest the seed to sell. Below you'll find a selection of sweet peas from the gardens, plus growing tips and advice on where to buy them.
(From left to right) 1 Lathyrus odoratus 'Albutt Blue', 2 L. 'Astronaut Lavender', 3 L. 'Daphne', 4 L. 'Dignity', 5 L. x hammettii 'Erewhon', 6 L. 'Katie Alice', 7 L. 'King Sized Navy Blue'
(From left to right) 1 L. 'Frances Kate', 2 L. 'Pulsar', 3 L. 'Comet', 4 L. 'Twinkle', 5 L. 'Linda Carole', 6 L. 'Wiltshire Ripple'
Where to buy
Eagle Sweet Peas, Eagle Sweet Peas, Broadmoor Lane, Stowe-by-Chartley, Staffordshire ST18 0LD.
Tel 01889 270215, eaglesweetpeas.co.uk
Easton Walled Gardens, Easton, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG33 5AP.
Tel 01476 530063, visiteaston.co.uk
Tel +64 9 833 9453, drkeithhammett.co.nz
Kerton Sweet Peas, North Farm Cottage, 14 Bristol Road, Pawlett, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 4RT.
Tel 01278 683517, kertonsweetpeas.co.uk
Roger Parsons Sweet Peas, Primrose Cottage, Clayton Lane, Bracklesham Bay, Chichester PO20 8JQ.
Tel 01243 673770, rpsweetpeas.com