Flower of the Week
There’s Nothing Sweeter than a Sweet Pea

There’s nothing sweeter than a Sweet Pea. I mean the evidence is in the name … it’s called a Sweet Pea.   It’s not called the “Dragon Breath Pea”, or the “Diabolical Pea”, or the  “I swear Baby, I must have caught  it from a toilet seat Pea”.

It’s a Sweet Pea.

So what’s so sweet about this cute little flower?  Well the Sweet Pea, was originally given it’s name because of the ridiculously sweet scent it had.  It wasn’t much of a looker but boyyyyy was it delicious smelling.  Now this was around the mid 1600’s mind you, so anything that smelled better than body odour and rotting teeth was worth it’s weight in gold.

A bontanist or two got their hands on the Sweet Pea in the early 1900’s and turned the ugly but fragrant Sweet Pea into a pretty, pretty flower.  Sadly it was at the expense of the scent and a lot of the Sweet Pea varieties that are around today don’t have that original, beautiful smell.

Luckily, we now have perfume, scented candles, reed diffusers, potpourri and deodorant.  This should help ease your anxiety if you are the owner of a scentless Sweet Pea.

I happen to be just such an owner and I couldn’t care less.  I mean, it’d be nice if my Sweet Peas filled the air with a heady perfume, harkening back to Edwardian times.  But they don’t.   What they DO have is staying power.

My Sweet Pea plants came into bloom yesterday and I can count on them blooming prolifically until October.  For the next 5 months they’ll be a flowering mess.

I have 3 Sweet Pea plants, 2 of them are purple, and 1 is white.  All of them are perennials that get huger and huger every year.  If I ever move, I’m renting a backhoe and taking my Sweet Peas with me.

Why?  Because as I’ve explained … there’s nothing sweeter than a Sweet Pea.





O.K. Now that you’ve gathered a bunch you need to stick in a receptacle. I used a “sweet” little pitcher from Ikea. Since Sweet Pea stems are quite short, you might have to shove a bunch of rocks or pebbles or gravel or dead bugs or lego pieces into the bottom of your vase.

See? Like that. Then sit back, relax and admire the Sweet Pea. Might I add … because it’s from the garden, it’s the Free Sweet Pea. Yup. It just got sweeter.

I dare you to walk past this pretty posie without grinning like an idiot.


  1. shannon@bakeandbloom.com says:

    lol they SHOULD be called dragon peas…they annoy me so much (although they are beautiful) they just don’t last in the hot Queensland weather. I hate how the perfume has been bred out of most modern flowers to help with longevity,(particularly roses) for me it defeats the purpose.

    • Karen says:

      I know. Flowers are truly meant to smell nice. I have some heritage roses and some David Austin’s that smell unbelievable! LIke raspberries. I never walk past w/out smelling them.

  2. Liz says:

    Sweet Peas are so gorgeous, it makes me wish i had a garden.

    • Karen says:

      Funny. I definitely pegged you for the garden type. One who knits should also garden. It’s kindda, like a rule.

  3. hopflower says:

    Most sweet peas have a good scent. It is a myth that the scent was bred out of them, and the sweet pea was introduced to England in 1699 by Fr. Franciscus Cupani who sent the seeds to a Dr. Robert Uvedale. Since then, the peas have been hybridised and grown to the many varieties there are now.

    Perennial sweet peas have no scent.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Hopflower! Thanks. I knew perennial sweet peas had no scent. I was actually referring to a few varieties of annual sweet peas I started from seed a few years back and they had no scent at all. They were all heritage varieties, so I was hoping for some strong fragrance. Nothin’. Nada. Perhaps you could suggest a strain that will smell up my garden! 🙂

  4. sera says:

    I couldn’t tell from your pictures, do you have them on a trellis? I’ve tried the second batch in pots already this spring and they are not wanting to grow as well as the snap peas that have climbed three feet already. I had no idea they were a perennial either, now I just want to dump tons of seeds in my yard, hmm. thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sera. The perennial sweet peas grow huge. 5 or 6 feet high. I have them growing on one side of a short fence and they grow up and over it. Very pretty. Depending on where you live and what type you have the annual sweet peas don’t grow very quickly or very big. Perennial Sweet peas can be hard to find, but if you do find them buy em!

  5. Monica says:

    Hi Karen, just found your site a few days ago and have had so much fun reading through your past posts. So funny … and also so helpful! 🙂 The redo of your back garden is what drew me in. It’s amazing, and I’m so impressed you did it yourself. You’ve inspired me already to figure out and accomplish a few projects around my house that my husband never seems to get to. I feel empowered! Thanks!

  6. Noelle says:

    Bah! jealous! My sweet pea clipping from your garden 2 years back is rebelling!! It likes you better and is telling me so! I may have to steal some while you are trapped in your messy potting shed. Oh wait, nevermind. I’m jealous you have a potting shed. Perhaps I should steal that..

  7. Tish says:

    i planted some sweet pea seeds this spring but no flowers yet…seeing yours makes me long for my future flowers. i hope they bloom soon!

  8. Tina says:

    Hi Karen,
    I just found your site last week, through KirbAppeal I think. I’m reading through the archives. Great stuff you did and very funny writing! I’m following now!

    I’m cleaning up my garden and just collected the seed pots off my white sweet peas. They’re annual, Lathyrus odoratus ‘White Supreme’, they really smell beautiful. I’ve had blue ‘Lord Nelson’ and ‘Midnight’ – bicolour dark red and violet. I don’t know if you can get those in Canada, or the varieties could have different names in Germany. They’re old varieties, selected for smell – so the flowers are quite small and a bit sparse. But my garden is shady, everything’s like that apart from nasturtiums… they might do better in Canada. A posy of 3 blooms perfumes the whole floor. Want me to send you some?
    I’ve had about 70% germination rates, but you have to use them next year, they don’t keep. I tried some from 2012 this spring and not one seed sprouted.

    Off to the archive again…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tina. I’m glad you found my site! Hmm. Kirbappeal. I’ll have to go look it up. I normally give a big YES when someone wants to send me seeds, but the truth is I haven’t had huge luck with annual sweet peas either! I grew them for the exact reason you say. Because I wanted the scent. But all I got were a few spindly tendrils with a couple of tiny flowers. 🙁 Oh what the heck. If you happen to be around an envelope with your seeds, here’s my address, lol. Karen Bertelsen, P.O. Box 65518, 133 King Street West, Dundas, Ontario, L9H 1Y6 🙂 ~ karen! (regardless of whether you send them along, thank you for thinking of me!)

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