Yes, reader, they bloomed. In my three-part sweet peas series, I showed my Painted Lady sweet peas in the just-growing stage. Here they are in full flower.
This is not the heaviest possible bloom you can get out of sweet peas. I don’t know if it was my planting timing, the weather (warm-cold-hot-warm), the part-sun aspect, or the fact that Painted Lady is, basically a wild variety that got taken into the garden.
I do know that it’s a wonderful thing to come home to their scent and multiple colors. As you can see, Painted Ladies start out very deep rose on top and white on the bottom. As they age, the top gets paler and the bottom gets flushed so the whole flower winds up the same faded lavender-pink.
I do find that deadheading sweet peas makes the bloom last longer (although we’ve also had a lucky spell of coolish weather instead of the headlong rush into the nineties that we often get this time of year).
There’s always the dilemma, when I save seed, of knowing that letting flowers go to seed stops bloom, but saving seed from the first blooms makes it more likely that you get earlier-blooming flowers next year. I compromise by choosing a couple of vines (earlier-blooming ones) and letting them go to seed. I deadhead the others.
If you’re wondering why I’m not going on about the joys of sweet pea bouquets, that would be because I really don’t have enough of them. My fantasy is to grow fencefuls of early-, mid-, and late-season types. Sweet pea bouquets last only a few days, but they’re soft, fragrant, and wonderful while they’re there.
I did talk to one of those Real Gardeners I mentioned about sweet peas, and it turns out she also plants in the fall, October or November. She is puzzled as to why her sweet peas–abundant heirloom and new varieties last year–have not done much this year.
Will I plant sweet peas in late summer this year, aiming for the successes of yesteryear? I answer this question with a resounding: I don’t know.