The Gardeners Magazine p. 535-536 (July 11, 1908)

It is fully evident that the value of the new American sweet peas has not been over-estimated, but rather that these most useful novelties are gaining rapidly in favour, and another winter will see them largely grown under glass in this country. As has been previously intimated, these sweet peas come into blossom early and give a continual succession of flowers, so that we may now regard the sweet pea (like the perpetual carnations) as an all-the-year-round product.

At the recent Boston (U.S.A.) Spring Show, these sweet peas were a noteworthy feature, and a special class was provided for them. The winning vases (of 100 spikes in each) were the white Florence Denzer and the popular Christmas Pink. Many other notable varieties were exhibited, and of these Mrs. Alex. Wallace, a good lavender, and W. W. Smalley, a satiny salmon-hued gem, were awarded first-class certificates.

As stated in a previous note, these sweet peas originated with Mr. Ant. C. Zvolanek, and I believe that some of his varieties will be seen in the Reading trials this summer, and should be in blossom in advance of our English sweet peas. With reference to the value of these varieties, I should hazard an opinion that they would prove profitable to follow on after late tomatoes or early chrysanthemums. If they are to follow on after the chrysanthemums, they might he sown in pots a month before the time of planting, thus saving considerable time, and then as soon as the house or houses are cleared of one crop, the other crop is ready to take its place. One should bear in mind when making up beds for winter sweet peas that a good supply of nutriment should be present in the soil, and also see that the beds are made firm before planting.

As an instance of the continuous blossoming of sweet peas, I may briefly give the raiser's experience of Mrs. E. Wild, a bright carmine-red, which makes a wealth of stout growth and foliage. This was sown in the beds under glass on August 25, 1906, and the plants commenced to flower on October 16. From this time forward until June 5, 1907, a continuous supply of blossoms was given, a long enough period for any plants to produce flowers. Of course, some varieties will secure a greater amount of Public favour than others, especially the whites and pinks, and in a lesser degree the reels and lavender shades. Sweet peas are so light in effect, and look so dainty when arranged in vases or made up into bouquets, etc., that the possibility of having a continuous supply the whole year through will give another fillip to sweet pea culture.

It must be borne in mind that there are other early sweet peas, in addition to the varieties of Mr. Zvolanek. The origin of some of these is of interest because the primary variety, Earliest of All, was a sport from Blanche Ferry (a well-known sweet pea of the older type). Earliest of All partakes much of the character of its parent, and true to its own origin, it gave a distinct and noteworthy break in Earliest White. From these two varieties, aided by cross-breeding and further sportive breaks, came the Télemby strain which has been brought into prominence by the Rev. E. Arkwright. These forms, whose chief merit is their early-flowering propensities, differ from our sweet peas in leaving narrower foliage and stems of a distinctly woody character.

But to revert to the Zvolanek varieties, the raiser definitely states that his peas have been crossed with a species of vetch, and the presence of vetch strain has been demonstrated by the fact that they require more soil moisture and a cooler temperature than ordinary sorts, and also the tendrils and the narrow, harder leafage of the vetch has, to a certain extent been retained. The first notable variety of the group, Christmas Pink, is of the Blanche Ferry colour, but it is not quite apparent how it came into being. The notable white, Florence Denzer, sprang up, a chance seedling among a hatch of sweet peas which had been crossed with Christmas Pink. Christmas Captain was obtained by crossing the Christmas Pink with Captain of the Blues, and it is of practically the sanie colour and form as the latter variety.

It is worthy of notice that the Zvolanek varieties are tall growers, and the raiser claims that the tall habit was acquired by crossing and recrossing aided by selection. As a contrast, it may be stated that Earliest of All grows about four feet high, while Watchung, a Zvolanek white, similar in form, grows nine feet in height, and the same may be said of the other varieties. There is one point about this tall habit. Provided one has sufficient pace to permit of unrestricted growth, it should be possible to obtain a larger supply of blossom from them than from dwarfs.

Many Zvolanek varieties which at present are not in commerce will probably be put on the market at the end of the summer. Among them one will probably find Mrs. George Lewis, a. giant white; Mrs. Hannay, cerise; Mrs. W. W. Smalley, satiny-salmon; and Miss Helen Gould, white and lilac. Among the most profitable of those already disseminated it is the bright, decided colours, and pure-hued paler forms which will be sought after. Six of the most popular for cutting would be Christmas Meteor, scarlet; W. J. Stewart, clear blue; Mrs. Alex. Wallace, lavender; Mrs. E. Wild, carmine-red; Florence Denzer, white; and Christmas Pink, all of which will give good results under sound treatment.

Sweet Peas Bibliography