Field of Sweet Pea Dreams
August 23, 2007
"Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings."
Sweet peas in the Cypress Community Gardens
"As I lay yonder in tall grass
A drunken bumble-bee went past
Delirious with honey toddy.
The golden sash about his body
Scarce kept it in his swollen belly
Distent with honeysuckle jelly.
Rose liquor and the sweet-pea wine
Had fill'd his soul with song divine;
Deep had he drunk the warm night through,
His hairy thighs were wet with dew."
---Henry A. Beers
My friend Lois is doing her part to increase blossom density in the city of Vancouver. One day this summer, she invited me to have a picnic in her "field." She has planted sweet peas at a traffic circle in her neighborhood in Kitsilano. We took a loaf of bread, some brie, and some wine and sat and had a picnic in the middle of the street while her son filmed us on super-8. It was a warm, sunny day and cyclists and motorists smiled as they followed the curve of the sweet pea traffic circle. Sadly, the peas have since succumbed to an infestation of aphids. Lois dutifully bought some ladybugs to release on the plants to do her part to try to balance out the aphid population in her neighborhood.
Maria Keating's bee and butterfly garden at City Farmer also has some beautiful sweet peas.
On Sunday, my mother-in-law gave me a bouquet of sweet peas for our dinner table. This year, I have been particularly blessed with sweet peas. They have a special place in my heart because they remind me of my mother's garden in Saskatchewan. They are such great flowers for cutting because picking them encourages more blossoms. My mom's Lathyrus odoratus come in all sorts of rich candy colors and look spectacular in the warm light of the setting sun. They also emit a rich honeyed fragrance that is strongest on warm days. They are the first flowers I tried to grow in my garden here in Vancouver, with disastrous results. The slugs decimated them. I have since learned that all my seeds must be started indoors, so next year I vow to put them in a sunny spot against my garden fence.
My friend Sarah lives in Kits, and she says she always stops to admire a sweet pea patch in her neighborhood. One day she saw the gardener picking them and told her how much she appreciated them. The gardener handed her a bouquet, saying "The more you pick them, the more you grow." Such a lovely random act of kindness. May your days be full of fields of sweet peas.