Oh, sweet pea …

Won’t you dance with me? Was there ever a flower as downright flirty as the sweet pea? Despite the crushing East Coast heat, these babies–a combination of types from Renee’s Garden Seeds including Saltwater Taffy Swirls and Perfume Delight—are making me happy every single morning, when I go out to pick myself a new bouquet. (Okay, sometimes I wait two days between bouquets to let the flowers open. But still–what an abundance of happiness!) And here’s today’s version, on my kitchen table.

When I first started growing sweet peas, I was a little disappointed that the flowers weren’t as big as I imagined when I saw them in the seed catalogs. Now I wouldn’t have them any other way but dainty and petite. This little bouquet serves to perfume my entire kitchen with the indescribable scent of these beauties. It’s a little like orange flowers, a little like lily of the valley, a little like tuberose, but really a joy all its own.

And they’re so easy to grow for me! I know, they’re supposed to be all finicky and temperamental, but I swear, I plant the seeds on St. Patrick’s Day every year and pick flowers from mid-June on. It’s true that you have to keep the flowers picked; get lazy, and the flowers will go to seed and peter out. It’s also true–and strange, if you think about it–that the stems of the flowers get shorter as the summer goes on. The first flowers I pick have gorgeous long stems, as much as nine or 10 inches, but by the end of summer, I’m sticking two-inch stumps in a vase. Still, I’m willing for that gorgeous elusive scent, and for the flowers’ unmistakably feminine allure. If I had it to do over again, I’d have had a wedding bouquet of sweet peas. Speaking of which, one of the reasons they’re so appealing is that I’ve never, ever seen them offered by a florist. They’re too ephemeral, I guess. So grow your own!

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