Sunday, 27 July 2008

Matthewman's - not this year

In Matthewman's sweet pea catalogue, you will find a bewilderingly long list of getting on for fifty varieties. Since seeing their stall at the Chelsea Flower Show, I have bought Matthewman's seeds and planted them in late Autumn as instructed; but last year's purchase - for some reason - remains in its wrapper. So in April, realising I had missed the boat, I bought some plants from our local florist/greengrocer, Robert Young: they have done brilliantly! The most delicate colours, and the longest, straightest stalks - some more than 18" - you could wish for.

Sweet peas are such a gift. You provide a simple structures (as for runner beans) and wind some string round it, then hey presto! They do the rest themselves. On the row, so long as you keep cutting - which you can do for ages - they look ethereal: in the hand in a bunch, they make a great bouquet: in a vase on the kitchen table, they are best of all, giving out their delicious scent. Their short life makes them all the more special. Whom the Gods love die young.

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