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Flower favour focus: sweet peas

Beautiful, blousy, heavily scented sweet peas steadily climbing in midsummer are always a magical delight for all the senses – as with their sweet floral fragrance, these beauties are just as much a treat for the nose, as well as the eyes. It’s no surprise that these flower favourites make an appearance in summer weddings, whether that’s in jam jars, urns or even in the gardens surrounding your dreamy venue. In the latest of our flower favour focus series, we’re shining the spotlight on sweet peas to help you decide if these pretty petalled lovelies should be a part of your big day (spoiler: yes they should!)...

Where do sweet peas come from?

Sweet peas (more formally known as lathyrus odoratus) are believed to have been introduced to the UK by an Italian monk named Franciscus Cupani in 1699 who was writing ‘Flora of Sicily’ and had sent some seeds to a friend in Essex. Over the next 170 years, a few sweet pea varieties grew within Britain. Then in 1888, a 65 year old gardener called Henry Eckford set up his own company in Shropshire and dedicated the rest of his life to the flower – increasing the size and expanding the range of colours available and becoming the flowers we all know and love.

How to grow sweet peas

These gorgeous blooms are easy to grow. Sow seeds (two to one pot) between October to March, as growing them over the winter, helps them to be more hardy and robust. Grab a root trainer (or an empty loo roll tube will do!), and add multi-purpose compost. Then dampen the compost and push the seeds in to about an inch above the surface. Cover the pots with newspaper or polystyrene to keep them moist and warm, with the light out. 

Once seedlings appear, keep them cool (around 5 degrees centigrade) in a shed. Once the roots have filled your root trainer (or loo roll), it’s time to plant them in a bigger pot/ in borders, just remember to use a support for them to grow up and only plant two seeds in each pot. As your sweet peas grow tie them to the frame, and then watch them bloom into life! You’ll need to water your sweet peas to keep the soil moist, throughout the season.

Do bees like sweet peas?

If you’ve been following us on Instagram (and reading our blogs), you’ll know that we’re all about being eco-friendly and doing our bit for the bees – and thankfully, one easy way to entice bees to our gardens is with flowers like sweet peas! While the flowers on the sweet pea aren’t as large as other blooms, the floral fragrance will attract the bees and they’ll happily buzz into them to feast. They’ll then get covered in the sweet peas’ pollen, which will help the flower to produce more, giving it, and the environment, a longer life. As Sir David Attenborough said: “...if the invertebrates were to disappear, the world’s ecosystem would collapse.”

Sweet peas as wedding flowers

With sentimental meanings such as ‘thank you’ and ‘blissful pleasure’, sweet peas make thoughtful wedding flowers. Whether you carry sweet peas in your hand-tied bouquet (for a whimsy feel), add country cottage vibes with a statement sweet pea archway or place in jam jar vases, they’ll be a lovely, fragrant addition to your big day. With such sweet meanings, they make wonderful favours too. Just think, your guests can enjoy them growing, as your married life blossoms too! 

If you’re looking for sweet pea flower favour ideas, take a peek at our collection here.

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