The Beechgrove Garden 2022 episode 7: Brian Cunningham and Carole Baxter are at Beechgrove to continue with the major renovation project that began when the garden lost one of its conifer trees earlier in the year. The hard landscaping has been done in the area where the conifer stood, and it’s now time to get planting.
Meanwhile, on his lawn in Joppa, George explains why putting the lawn mower aside for No Mow May is a great idea. Carole takes a look at the perennial sweet peas, and keen gardener Diana Yates introduces the first of her features from her garden in the Borders.
The Beechgrove Garden 2022 episode 7
Perennial or everlasting peas lack the fragrance of the annual form, but share the same colourful flowers and return each year, dying back below ground in winter. Use climbing types on fences, through shrubs or hedges or on a bank. Short-growing types blend with other perennials in the borders. Upright or trailing plants carry romantic sprays of pea-like white, yellow-orange, pink, red, blue or purple flowers (some combining two colours) mainly in summer. The clump forming, short-growing Lathyrus vernus flowers in spring.
Grow Lathyrus in any soil that drains easily in full sun or partial shade. Climbing types need somewhere to sprawl such as over a bank or a hedge. Perennial peas won’t do so well in excessively dry or waterlogged soil. Expect poor flowering in deep shade. Lathyrus latifolius, native to southern Europe, has ‘escaped’ from gardens and is sometimes seen with its mass of vivid pink flowers in hedgerows and on patches of waste ground and cliffs around the UK.
When choosing between sweet peas and perennial Lathyrus, the main decision is whether or not scent is important to you. Then work out whether you’d prefer an annual or perennial. There are plenty of colour options too, as well as both climbing and more bushy types.
Sow sweet peas in pots of seed compost in autumn or spring then plant them out in April, or sow them directly into the soil in April. Pot-sowing is generally more reliable than direct sowing, though it is more time-consuming. If you sow in autumn to increase chances of early flowers, keep seedlings in a coldframe or cold greenhouse during the winter months to prevent the seedlings becoming leggy. Keep the lid of the coldframe raised unless heavy frost is expected. Spring-sown sweet peas flower in 12-14 weeks.