The England charm & Glass face Jar

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In past gardens, I have emphasized edibles, overlooking the beauty one finds incorporated in Cottage gardens. Once realizing the amount of space wasted in my larger gardens, I took aim to the intensive planting method. Carrots growing amongst tomatoes. Parsnips amongst the lettuce. Pen to paper, I realized I could grow just as much in half the space by simply mixing things together. Leaving spare space for scented luxury.
My friend settled on very dark purple sweet peas for her wedding and finding one consistent amongst the American suppliers was a disappointment. Enough slight differences that sent me scouting across the waters. I discovered Owl's Acres Sweet Peas, whom specializes in pure reliable Sweet pea flower seeds. I chose 2 for the experiment of timing & other considerations. Dark Passion *& Cream Southbourne *.
Yes, all that excitement over a package from England contained just 40 seeds of flowers. On something as important as this day, I wanted the best I could find and England... Well. They know their sweet peas!
And so it begins... The growing Love & adventure of Sweet Peas.
The flowers have an air of romance about them, in scent and appearance. Sweet peas' fragrance is sensuous, a captivating blend of honey and orange blossom, with an intensity that varies from one cultivator to another. Their ruffled blooms look like little butterflies all a flutter in garden or vase. Another bonus being Sweet peas offer one of the widest color ranges in the plant kingdom.  As the vines get older, the flowers stems will get shorter. In the beginning, it may seem their stems are perfect for your favorite vase with later on swaying you to use one shorter. The all knowing & wise Sweet Pea society exclaims to grow them as cordons (as in cane poles} and remove the tendrils. Personally, I think that for the home gardener starting, the method can be daunting. After a year or so of becoming more familiar with their habits & needs, you may feel like taking on the Cordon way. For now, embrace their stem length behavior and ready the jars & glassware of various heights. I am experimenting with the method simply due to the need of arrangements I will put out for our roadside table. I have yet to see anyone doing this with flowers in our area. Everyone does veggies & fruits. but as for flowers, especially at an affordable price. I see a potential niche.

I happened to find these 2 jars at one of the local thrifts,  a mere 79 cents each. The hour glass will prove to be a fine flower vase and the too tempting to say no face jar will make an adorable addition to our summer array. Bringing the sensuous scent from the garden, into our home.
  I save glass jars from items we use as well so to have plenty for the roadside table with an honesty box. This way when peole buy an arrangement, they can take or leave the jar and not be missed.
I will not go into a lengthy How To on their growing. Renee of Renees Garden* does it better then I could- with pictures! As for how to achieve the  perfect bouquet and how to prolong their vase life, I found some very helpful information amongst the books I have scoured. Renee covers everything except this, so please do read her article for a positive experience with your growing adventure.

I discovered a very fascinating book titled..what else... "The Sweet Pea book by Graham Rice". So informative, I am scanning some pages into my comp for printing later on. If you can get your hands on a copy, it is well worth the read. I admit, I did not devour every paragraph or page being it covers information on a huge amount of different cultivators. I centered in on the growing methods, harvesting & prolonging vase life. I did take note on possible diseases as well.
Almost every plant has a nemesis where unfortunately Powdery Mildew is the most widespread & destructive for these plants. Helping to prevent an invite when it is generally most troublesome in hot, dry spells with low humidity, you need to keep them well watered to reduce it's impact. Do not plant sweet peas next to Lupines or culinary peas being they share the same species of powdery mildew strain. yes, there are different strains such as the one on Roses is not the same as the above.
Do not make the mistake of mixing a hodge podge of bloom colors when arranging as cut bunches. Maybe this is why I am not fond of the bouquets I see in farm markets. The mixed medium flow is just not appealing to me. I prefer to keep bunches simple and not over doing the palette . When making pure Sweet Pea bouquets with little to no greenery, keep in mind, some colors look better together then others. Traditional is Pink & Lavender. Mauve & salmon are good. Whites with almost any color looks splendid. Their pastels are darling and their darks are dashing.

Simple greenery is really not needed  with these, but if you want to add a green, look for spikey flowers like the Bell of Ireland to bring the bunch to a whole new level. Do you have access to long non stiff feathers? Rooster or Peacock? This may sound a bit much but for those who want something unique & beyond casual, one should experiment with adding other mediums. This picture is of course of a wedding party with an example of adding other mediums such as the peacock feathers.
It's not just for weddings my dear. Even clippings from Witch Hazel or other Smooth wood twigs like willow tree tips can change up the feel of your arrangement. Instead of just giving away extra tomatoes & zucchini, make up a worthy centerpiece arrangement to share the Garden joy. Your friends and family will enjoy your masterpiece and possibly have them asking for more.

When you harvest your sweet peas, this first step may seem unnecessary, but it has a huge purpose. Use hand pruners for clipping only after you have wiped down the blades with alcohol to disinfect. Do this periodically while you are cutting. This will help prevent any disease from spreading as you go down the line. Bring a bucket of COOL water to plunge your cut flower in immediately As for longer life, you want to cut stems that have just the first bud opened. Do not use your tap water in the vase. Water softener salts and city water flouride are not friendly to any vase flowers. They have a chemical reaction inside the flower, almost like poisoning or clogging as it draws the liquid up. In a pinch, you can boil your water for vase use should distilled not be available. Air bubbles are also a quick death. I know many have heard of using diluted 7UP. Personally, I sway from it even if the carbonation has been diluted to the naked eye. My personal opinion and not fact on its use. The air bubbles are indeed...Bad. 
Keep them no higher then at 75 ( F ) degrees. Keep them away from anything creating ethylene {yes, they too create this but adding another source is another quick death}. Away from fruit bowls, especially bananas & other flowers. Keeping them in a breezy place will help disperse the ethylene they themselves produce. 
After a few days, recut the stems UNDER WATER to help prolong their life. Why under water? Due to the makeup of their stem structure, air bubbles can make their entrance unless done in the water.
Increase vase life from 2-3 days up to 6 by following the above and of course adding a food solution of 1 pound sugar to 1 gallon of water. Adding the sugar after boiling your tap water would be ideal being the water and sugar will mix happily. No sugar crystals lounging in the container with this method.

It can be overwhelming when your search for the perfect sweet pea flowers. If you would like to start out with a company here in the states, Renee's Garden* shares a very nice variety with descriptions of scent & stem included. Otherwise, hop over to Owl's Acres { } for the expansive tantalizing charms they offer. No Cottage garden should be without Sweet Pea flowers. Along a row just for them or climbing the fence sides where they will not be bleached in the heat of direct sun. Perhaps even a Bentwood Arbor greeting the guests mingled in with  kiss me over the garden gate.
Your garden should always pull your guests in. Let the squash ramble and Calendula peek from beneath it's leaves. Let Zinnias line the pathway between the beans. Not only are you pulling in the attention of beneficial bugs, you are creating a habitat for Organic bliss with their scent. For your health & your garden's. Keep in mind, many bugs are deterred by scents in companion planting. Thats why you always hearr about planting marigolds heavily throughout the garden. Bugs think it stinks too.

Now I must be off. I have posts to assemble as well as ready the string / wire to be hung for the grasping of their tendrils. 20 ft long rows with a total of 3 just for sweet peas. Maybe a space amongst that I can plop my new to me old chair, inhaling their wondrous sweet scent napping with my little white dog....

Sweetest Dreams,

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...