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Cornucopia - Peas for pleasure

Peas for pleasure
Hazel Finney

I like peas. I like eating them and looking at them - not forgetting those with perfume!

I sow Oregon sugar pod peas in early November, they came through last winter and there are signs of life at the moment. Podded peas have been disappointing for the last two seasons so I am going to try a low growing sugar snap type this year. These mangetout peas are good either cooked or sliced raw into a salad of green leaves and spring onions.

The perennial plants that I find most successful are Lathyrus latifolius in three colours. The magenta scrambler that we know from railway sidings goes, with a little help, up an Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride' which is trained up an obelisk. The more restrained L. latifolius 'White Pearl' (which comes true from seed) drapes itself over a large clump of epimedium leaves. Several plants of L. latifolius 'Albus' - usually with a pink flush - romp about my border under a small Ginkgo biloba replacing the honesty plants. 'Rosa Perle' a gentle rose and white gives a good show in my small front garden after the spring bulbs, corms and early flowering shrubs have faded.

Lathyrus grandiflorus is large flowered with a purple keel and deep pink standard. This beauty is a thug, nevertheless; mine is ringed with hard landscaping. Nevertheless it has set seed only twice, each time after a very hot summer.

L. rotundifolius, with its dainty light red flowers, is a short lived perennial in my garden, it seeds itself gently around and all the plants are welcome.

Suttons offer seed of an orange and yellow small flowered perennial lathyrus species ('Goldmine'), it was not very successful last year but I am going to try again.

Lathyrus vernus is a tough low growing perennial. I grow two forms, both from seed, the usual purple which fades to blue and the pink and white 'Alboroseus'.

These are both lovely in the early spring.

Lathyrus aureus is more curious than beautiful, being clumpy with dull foliage and dusty looking yellow flowers in tight 2" long sprays.

Last, but not least, is the sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus, queen of annual climbers. My son grows plants for me. Some are the large-flowered Spencer type and some in much the same colour tones are smaller but very highly scented. Planted together they give me the best of both worlds. This year the colour is blue!

First published in the Correspondents Group Newsletter, June 2011
and subsequently in Cornucopia Issue 30.
© Copyright for this article: Hazel Finney

This article was taken from a copy of Cornucopia that was published in 2012. You could be reading these articles as they are published to a national audience, by subscribing to Cornucopia.


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