This flower is a hardy annual climbing plant with rough stems, long
stalks, tendril-bearing leaves and seed pods, one to two inches long.
The blossom has five petals, the upper one larger than the others. Some
varieties have plain petals, others are fringed.
Sweet peas varieties include both double and hooded types of flowers,
distinguished by their hues of white, pink, lavender, red, blue,
purple, etc. The only color they do not show is yellow.
Wild sweet peas have been traced back to Sicily, China, Malta, Sri
Lanka and elsewhere, but the true origins of the species are lost to
history. The first printed reference is attributed to Francisco Cupani
in 1695 in Sicily, where he was in charge of a botanical garden. Cupani
published a written description of the plant and sent seed to other
European botanists and its cultivation was begun. Sweet peas would
eventually become the most widely grown of garden flowers worldwide.
"There is an old belief that if you plant sweet peas on Good Friday, or
on St. Patrick's Day, they will grow more abundantly," according to All About the Months.
Large flowered English Spencer sweet peas derive from the "Countess
Spencer," developed in the early 20th century by gardener Silas Cole at
Althorp House in England, seat of the Spencer family and home of
Princess Diana. These sweet peas have uniquely ruffled, bicolor petals.
Charlies Angel This
is a long stemmed Spencer type sweet pea, producing
exceptionally delightful large, pale blue overlaid lavender flowers on
long stems. It is a highly scented variety.
This is a large-flowered purple sweet pea with
a very ruffled look. Among the top ten exhibition sweet peas in the
1990s, it won the National Sweet Pea Society Clay Cup for the best vase
in the National Show in 1986.