Grandiflora Sweetpeas for early flowers and scent

Grandiflora Sweetpeas for early flowers and scent

Over the last 2 summer seasons, I've been delighted to be part of the committee team for the RHS Wisley Sweet pea trials. 

The aim over the 2 seasons was to assess some of the newer varieties along with older types of the Grandiflora Sweet peas. - These are highly scented varieties that are slightly earlier flowering outside than the Spencer varieties, and over the years. that has meant that I've managed to have a succession of Sweet pea flowers from the Polytunnel and outside through the late spring and summer.

The Committee was made up of Sweet pea specialist growers and show winners, seed producers, and those with a great knowledge of the varieties over the years. It was fascinating to learn from them all as we discussed which varieties were disease resistant, put up with the hugely hot temperatures of the summer of 22, and were still going longest throughout the summer.

 The trials also looked at Autumn sown sweet peas versus spring sown seeds of the same types, The seeds for the Autumn varieties were sown in October, the Spring ones in March

and the results on this were totally conclusive that if you can sow in the Autumn or winter, you will get stronger plants and longer flowering times. In fact in the hot summer of 2022, the Autumn sown started flowering weeks before the Spring sown, but were still going when the smaller Spring sown plants had petered out due to the heat.

After 2 seasons of assessing the varieties, the committee got together and voted on which ones were worthy of an AGM- Award of Garden merit. 

We were looking for Quality of flowers, Scent and colour (Consitency and strength of colour) Number of flowers and if they were well distributed throughout the plant. Disease and pest resistance. 

The results are now with the RHS committee for ratifying, so by the new year, I should be able to announce which ones got AGM's and which ones weren't deemed worthy.

In the meantime, here are 4 of my personal favourites, - these will all be available from our Pick your own in the Spring/ Summer of 2024.

The Pink below is Alisa, and the creamy white is Valentine. Both were beautifully scented with many florets, and Valentine stood out every time we met for being full of flowers.

My other favourites that took my eye whenever I was taking photos were the purple blue of Chrissie, and the amazing scent from More Scent (both pictured below)

If you are looking for varieties that are most likely to make it through when we have hotter summers, the ones that lasted the longest and were still flowering in August 2022 were - King Edward VII, Scarlett, Monty Don, (The reds seemed to do well in the heat) Valentine, Alisa, Dragonfly, and Mrs Collier.