'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sweet, Sweet Peas.


When I was about 7 and my sister was 3, I discovered sweet peas.  That year my Mother grew them against the chook house.  There were masses, lovely reds, blues and purples, and the soft mild sweet perfume scented the whole of that part of the garden - from the raspberries to the asparagus bed, and even as far as the peach tree.
But when I say discovered,  I don't mean the flowers, I mean the peas themselves, in their pods. We knew about garden peas, and helped Mum shell them and always enjoyed a few before the rest were put in the pot.  So when I saw these little tiny child-size peas, green and tender in their pods, I naturally tried them, and finding them as nice if not nicer than the garden types, called Jane over excitedly.  We had eaten dozens before Mum spotted us.  She gave a strangled sort of shriek, said firmly 'Don't eat any more of those please dears!' and rushed away inside.  Being well-behaved little girls, we went and had a swing and had forgotten all about the sweet peas in the ten minutes it took Mum to phone the hospital.  I learned many years later they said they had no idea if sweet peas were poisonous, and just to keep an eye on us for a while.  Needless to say, we survived.

A friend gave me a beautiful bunch the other day.


Although I still remember eating the peas, now I see them mostly through an artist's eyes.



The graduations of colours, the purple tones in the stems (how can green mix so beautifully with mauve??!), the way the flowers ripple at their edges and bend against themselves, the recurved points on the sepals, the tiny hairs on the stems ...


...the lovely markings on some of the petals ...



... the brightness of them under the skylight and against the dark bench ....



and of course the heavenly scent.  I wish you could smell them!




13 comments:

  1. These old fashioned Spring flowers have just about disappeared from the gardens in Brisbane. In fact people don't seem to have any gardens any more. Drought, water restrictions and very high water prices has meant that our once green and lush sub tropical city now resembles a desert. People don't water their lawns or take much pride in their gardens any more. spring seems to pass us by without annual flowers these days. Luckily we still have all our flowering trees to give us a bit of colour.

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    1. Ah, that's a pity Helsie. There's something about wandering through suburban streets and peeking over fences at gardens...

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  2. They are absolutely gorgeous in all their glory, the way you have described them Katherine. And a very cute memory. Has Granny returned home yet? I trust her holiday with your sister was enjoyable.

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    1. Granny is still at Kuranda Carol. She's having a lovely time. Apparently they have a pin-board with all the creepy-crawlies that enter the house affixed thereupon!

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  3. "I wish you could smell them!" Your enthusiasm for sweet peas is so infectious that if I close my eyes I can almost smell them - even on this dark November afternoon - the aroma of summer gardens.

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    1. Vicarious smelling YP ...

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  4. They are lovely flowers. My mum used to grow them back at the house where I grew up. I think once or twice I also grew them in a box on the balcony - not where I live now, but my previous flat.

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    1. Monica, sweet peas grow quite well in containers. I like that the seed is so durable for the following year.

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  5. At my people's last home there was a perpetual sweet pea growing by the front door. It would reappear every year, and would grow so thickly that it could be trimmed like a hedge. I wish I'd kept some of the seeds.

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    1. Good gracious, that must have been quite a lovely sight Cro. Perpetual, as in a different species? Or just a mild enough climate that the regular type didn't die down?

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    2. It died down in winter, but reappeared each spring. It was also multi coloured. Wonderful.

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  6. I love Sweet Peas but in Eagleton the wind means that they can't be grown successfully there. Here in NZ I really don't have a flower garden of any sort and even where I have planted things round The Cottage many have died because the area on which it is built is a little built-up island of rock-hard clay.

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    1. That's a pity Geeb. They do need reasonable soil and something to hang onto in the wind...

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