In a vase on Monday – Unseasonal delights


My first Monday vase in a while has been prompted by the excitement of having April Sweet Peas to share.

Encouraged by Julie at Peonies and Posies I sowed some Owl’s Acre Winter Sunshine
seeds in the autumn and then planted them out in the unheated greenhouse in February. This Winter Sunshine strain has been specially bred to cope with the ‘sub-optimal light conditions’ at this time of year, and, whilst Owl’s Acre suggests they could flower in March, I was a bit delayed in planting them out and so am thrilled to have blooms to cut before the middle of April.  Not only do they have good long stems but also have that gorgeous sweet pea scent.  Mmmm.

As I only had three stems I needed to mix them with something else, and chose the equally unseasonal Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens.’  (According to Sarah Raven’s website these should flower from June).  These stems were cut from a plant which had self seeded and over wintered in the pebbly path near the metal troughs, so it was no great loss to cut them as they really shouldn’t be there anyway!IMG_0194

Sweet pea, Winter Sunshine, LavenderIMG_0192

Sweet pea, Winter Sunshine, CreamIMG_0199

I’m also growing a third colour, ‘Mid Blue’, but that one’s being a little shyer than the others to flower.

So, here is my Monday vase, photographed on Sunday evening in front of the still leafless over the road oak, and now on the table in a (still) Aga warmed kitchen.  Bonkers!

With thanks as ever to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting all our Monday vases.IMG_0190


24 thoughts on “In a vase on Monday – Unseasonal delights

  1. Christina

    I’m encouraged to try these sweet peas this autumn. With the light levels here I think there should be no problem in having early flowers, the only problem will be space but as I love sweet peas and can’t grow the summer ones here I think they’d be worth the space. Cerinthe often flowers from Christmas in Italy although this year they are flowering now, they make a lovely combination.

    1. jenhumm116 Post author

      Christina, you should definitely try them. A summer without sweet peas? Nightmare! At least this way you’d have them early on. Definitely worth the space in my view.
      Can you not grow them in the summer because of the heat?

  2. Cathy

    Yes, the cerinthe is perfect with these shades – I think I should pinched out my cerinthe ages ago, but after using some in my vase today I am going to sow some more to make sure I have it flowering over a longer season. I know just how thrilled you must be to have your sweet peas and going on the photo you showed of them a week or two back I think I can expect the first of mine in a week or so. I especially like the photo of them with the tree in the background – beautiful shot. Thanks for sharing Jen

    1. jenhumm116 Post author

      You’re right, I’m ridiculously thrilled. And so lovely to be able to share with fellow nutters who understand 😉
      I look forward to seeing yours.

  3. The Frustrated Gardener

    You’ve done well there Jen! A little taste of summer in the midst of a very cool spring. I had stopped growing cerinthe as I couldn’t give it a sunny enough spot, but if it can flower at this time of year I might just try it again. Lovely post.

      1. The Frustrated Gardener

        Yes, definitely. I have tried before but found the plants get leggy unless they are in full sun. My ‘new’ garden might be a better environment for Cerinthe. I can imagine them growing in a really striking glazed pot 🙂

  4. Sam

    How beautiful. This is a vase-full of flowers I’m hoping to be able to create in a couple of months! I have sweet pea and cerinthe seedlings but nowhere near flowers yet. Lucky you 🙂

    1. jenhumm116 Post author

      Hi Sam, the Cerinthe seed all through my paths and, having over wintered, they’re well ahead of any new ones sown this year.
      And the sweet peas are a revelation. However, I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen when I need the space for the tomatoes!

  5. homeslip

    Love the stormy blue colour of the cerinthe and how loveky to see a vase of sweet peas during a chilly April. My sweet peas have been planted out at the allotment for a couple of weeks now and I’m itching to start flower seed sowing but it is too damp and cold.

    1. jenhumm116 Post author

      Yes, I love the colour too – I can’t think of another plant with quite the same, as you say, stormy, hue.
      And don’t fret about seed sowing, I’ve read so many articles explaining that later sown seeds catch up really quickly and you’re better to bide your time. But I know just what you mean about itching!

  6. Donna@Gardens Eye View

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw your sweet peas….fabulous vase with the colors. I intend to sow mine this week…no greenhouse so I have to plant them out once the soil can be worked so that will be this week. I hope I can harvest a few….

  7. Kris P

    The sweetpeas and the Cerinthe make a lovely combination. I hope I’ll see more of them in future vase posts. Sweetpeas are routinely planted in early fall in southern California and often bloom in February or March; however, mine are not among them as the raccoons took out 2 separate sowings of seeds. I finally put in seedlings purchased from my local garden center but the raccoons are even messing with those.

    1. jenhumm116 Post author

      Thanks Kris.
      And Grrr – that’s so frustrating! I had the same thing with my crocus bulbs last year. Here’s hoping some of your latest batch survive.

  8. Julie

    I am so pleased to see your sweet peas are flowering!! I found my first flower today – a Lavender one like yours – I think I will have a few more to pick in a day or two. I am a little sceptical about getting these to flower in March -mine were sown early and in the greenhouse bed just after Christmas – they seemed to be growing really well but have flowered at the same time as last year when I was much later with sowing/planting. Never mind it is still incredibly early for sweet peas – quite bonkers – so I am not complaining.

  9. Hannah

    The purple black of the Cerinthe really sets off your lovely sweet peas, Jen. I’m amazed to see so much Cerinthe now, the year I grew it from seed it didn’t bloom until August, and it wasn’t such a dark color.


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