Behind the Bloom: Sweet Pea
"Lathyrus odoratus" is the botanical name for sweet pea. It smells great no matter what you call it!
Who doesn't love sweet peas, despite their short vase life? They mix well in bouquets with most other blooms. But best of all is enjoying them "neat", all on their own. A posy of sweet peas is an extraordinary treat!
The airy smell of lathyrus falls somewhere between orange blossom and jasmine, with a hint of grape. The scent is demure rather than bold, and best appreciated by bringing the flower to your face. Then inhale!
Last year, I started growing my own vines. Unlike garden peas, sweet pea seeds are poisonous if ingested. I let the pods dry, and collected them in the fall. I carefully stored them, and planted the seeds in the spring. Currently my plants are showing promise, if not flowers! (Gardening is to floristry as orthodontics is to dentistry. That is to say, it requires a completely different skill set!)
Luckily I have an excellent source for sweet peas - a wonderful grower from Delhi Ontario, Janet Ternes. Janet took over the family flower farm from her late father, who would say a prayer over each seed he planted. I remember him well from the early days of Quince -- always with a few florets tucked in the brim of his straw hat. These days, Janet wraps each bundle she sells in a hosta leaf to set off the butterfly shaped blooms.
Sweet peas have got me under their spell right now! Hope you'll enjoy them too, for as long as they last.