the humble sweet pea (lathyrus odoratus)

I was interested to see a TV scene recently where someone was upset because she did not want a vase of sweet pea flowers left in her patient’s room. I discovered it is similar to the superstition of not giving red and white flowers to a hospital patient. My mother, who was a nurse, always told me that they are a sign of death.  Many people think it comes from the WWI nurses who believe the red and white was too closely associated with blood and bandages.

For those who know me well will understand why I felt the need to research the humble sweet pea a little further. In addition to it symbolising goodbye or a departure in Japan, I found some other interesting facts. For example:

  • the great romantic poet John Keats (1795 – 1821) is believed to be first person who used the name sweet pea;
  • there are over 250 varieties of sweet peas;
  • if your rows of seeds are planted running north-south, your sweet peas will blossom profusely;
  • if you sow your seeds before sunrise on Saint Patrick’s day, you will have larger and more fragrant blossoms;
  • English gardeners call sweet peas the Queen of Annuals
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