Sweet peas up-to-date, with a complete description of all known varieties

Oct 23, 2013 by

sweetpeasSweet peas up-to-date, with a complete description of all known varieties by G. W. Kerr was originally published in 1910 and is a must have if you are a a Sweet Pea lover.  No doubt there have been many new varieties added since the early 1900’s, but few things are as relaxing as reading a gardening book from 1910!    This book is also interesting because though it is written by G.W. Kerr the preface is written by W. Atlee Burpee & Co. – as in Burpee seeds.  Here are a few lines from the book’s introduction:

“The Sweet Pea has a keel that was meant to seek all shores; it has wings that were meant to fly across all continents; it has a standard which is friendly to all nations; and it has a fragrance like the universal Gospel: yea, a sweet prophecy of welcome everywhere that has been abundantly fulfilled.” So said the Rev. W. T. Hutchins, the well-known Sweet Pea enthusiast, when attending the Sweet Pea Bi-centenary Celebration in London in 1900; and his words almost sound like a prophecy, — a prophecy that has indeed been abundantly fulfilled.

As far as we can learn the Sweet Pea is a native of Sicily, and we read that in 1699 Franciscus Cupani, an Italian monk, sent seeds to England, and so was begun the culture of Sweet Peas. Although there were several distinct colors in cultivation, no great advancement was made until the late Henry Eckford of Wem, Shropshire, England, in 1870 started his great life work on Sweet Peas. Since then the development of this lovely and fragrant flower has been one of the floral wonders of the age.

The late Thomas Laxton of Bedford, England, also worked on the improvement of the Sweet Pea, starting in 1877. His Invincible Carmine was certificated in 1883, being the first recorded result of cross-fertilization, and since then many florists have assisted in carrying on the improvement of the Sweet Pea, America being to the front as usual, many charming and refined varieties being distributed by W. Atlee Burpee & Co. and other American seedsmen, and quite three-fourths of the Sweet Pea seed used each year all over the world is grown in this country. Had any one ten years ago said that the Sweet Pea would become within the next few years the most popular flower of the day, he would have been laughed at, and yet this has become an accomplished fact”

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