When growing anything, the difficult descision is always which variety to grow. With sweet peas the problem is no different. As well as the large Spencer varieties with their showy wavy petals, many of the old fashioned varieties have much appeal: notably for their scent but also for their abundance of flower. Throw in to mix the Lathyrus species and the mind begins to boggle! 

Last year I concentrated on growing three varities with the objective to exhibit. I grew ‘Mary Priestley’, a fairly new variety released by Myers Sweet Peas, ‘Gwendoline’, a banker in the showing world and also ‘Just Julia’, another fairly new variety availble from Roger Parsons.  I sowed about 40 of each and took up approximately 30 plants cordon fashion. I was pleased to be able to show these with some and really enjoyed exhibiting at the National show held at Harlow Carr, Harrogate. 

Mary Priestley, Gwendoline, Just Julia

All three varieties grew well for me but I did find that Just Julia marked in wet weather – I think that this is common problem with blues. A number of growers cover their blooms to keep weather off them; however, I am not planning to do that. 

This coming year I plan to grow both Mary Priestley and Gwendoline again, approximately 30 of each, and then 30 of Sir Jimmy Shand. I have grown this variety before but not as cordon. It has grown well for me in tubs. 

Sir Jimmy Shand

Two varieties which I plan to grow this year for the first time are ‘Betty Maiden’and ‘Lady Nicholson’. The former is a blue stripe on white ground; I saw this shown at the national and was impressed by it. The latter, ‘Lady Nicholson’ is a novelty released by Roger Parsons which is described as being very similair to ‘Sir Jimmy Shand’ but mauve instead of lilac.