JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sweet peas in autumn

Yesterday, at dusk, I heard the weather forecast. Cold night. I ran out into the gloom with my flower scissors and cut what I thought would be the last bunch of sweet peas for the year. The smell in my study this morning was overpowering.

A quick check in the garden shows that I was being unnecessarily gloomy; there are still many sweet peas worth picking, all of them this lovely variety with two names, Matucana, or Cupani's Original - a much better name as it hints at the history (it arrived in Britain from Sicily in the 17th century, sent by a monk named Cupani). This is the mother of all sweet peas, the first, the one with the strongest scent, the one with hints of all the colours that have been bred into a cultivated sweet pea. My favourite.

It can't last, we are past the equinox, and sweet peas respond to light. I've been picking them three or four times a week since the beginning of May. Although I grow other sweet peas, Cupani's original is my favourite - the strongest scent, the first to flower, the last to die back, with its beautiful maroon and purple flowers. How could all those nurserymen have thought they could improve on nature's own sweet pea?

PS the dahlia in the corner of this picture is a stunner, David Howard ... the photograph doesn't do it justice, I'll post a better one soon


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

How wonderful to think of you running out into the night to cut these. Something I'm always doing. Love the sweet peas! and their scent.

Abitofafoodie said...

What a beautiful colour those sweet peas are. So unusual.
I still have a fair few flowering in my small London garden - just reading your post makes me think I should go out now and bring them in!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I've never seen sweet peas that colour, beautiful. I'm going to track some seeds down.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Isn't it amazing the pleasure that a simple fresh flower can bring us? Enjoy!

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Stunning, nuanced, complex color! How could we ever imagine it could be improved upon? I long for a garden so I can grow my own Cupani sweet peas...someday...
Until then, I buy them at the market, but they're long gone here unfortunately, despite the heat.
And I actually adore dahlias too! My friend's wedding 2 weeks ago in Maine used all dahlias on the tables and in the bouquets etc. The colors were absolutely riotous! It was beautiful.