One Sweet Sweet Pea

By Susan Littlefield

Sweet peas are long-time garden favorites for their beautiful, fragrant blossoms. Old fashioned varieties of these annuals are tall climbers, needing a bamboo tepee, trellis or other support to scramble up. Newer dwarf "bush" varieties have been bred that extend the pleasures of growing these lovely flowers to smaller spaces, containers and hanging baskets.

One such compact variety is the brightly-colored, single-flowered 'Villa Roma Scarlet,' the first sweet pea to win the coveted Fleuroselect Gold Medal for 2011. Growing about a foot tall and wide, this cultivar of Lathyrus odoratus is covered with bright scarlet blossoms from July through September. Its eye-catching color makes it a striking addition to container plantings and exceptional spilling out of a hanging basket. When planted directly in the garden, it needs no support.

Seeds can be started early indoors or planted directly in the garden in April or May. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting to speed up germination. Select a sunny spot and enjoy the excellent garden performance of this exciting new variety all summer long.

Fleuroselect is an international organization for the ornamental flower industry. This year they are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their Gold Medal Award, given to the best innovative, new varieties after impartial, international evaluation.

For more information about 'Villa Roma Scarlet' sweet pea and other Fleuroselect Gold Medal winners, go to Fleuroselect.

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