Cupani – the mother of sweet peas
Last spring I sowed sweet peas direct into the ground, and got a big fat nothing.
Then I read an article by Monty Don saying he doesn’t have much success that way either. So I decided to try again, sowing them in pots to plant out later.
At the Malvern Autumn Show I came across Pennard Plants – a fab company specialising in heirloom seeds. After rifling through their collection I finally settled on a couple of old-fashioned varieties. One of which was Cupani.
This is officially ‘the mother of all sweet peas’. It can be traced back to 1699 when it was cultivated by an English schoolmaster from seeds sent to him by Father Cupani, a Sicilian Monk.
I had 15 Cupani seeds and sowed them in three batches: autumn, winter and early spring. Then I left them to germinate in the well ventilated (i.e. several panes of glass missing) greenhouse we inherited with the cottage.
the tendrils cling to anything, and I think they’re almost as lovely as the flowers
Predictably, the first batch were devoured by mice as soon as they germinated. The second batch grew and made it through the winter, but looked pretty shabby by February. The ones I sowed in the spring caught up quickly as the weather warmed. I won’t bother with a winter sowing again.
We planted them out in large containers and they are rampant – you can’t tell which were the spring / winter sowings now. I mixed Cupani with another heritage variety, Painted Lady. Apparently she is the daughter of Cupani – but that was a happy accident, I didn’t know it at the time!
They have started flowering in earnest this week. And the more you pick, the more they flower. Hopefully we’ll have that inimitable sweet pea fragrance in the house all summer long.
they are rampant – and I think we have over-planted. Our neighbour has grown them for years and says ‘more than one plant per stick is greedy’!
M with Cupani and Painted Lady – looking for mischief…