An interesting development in sweet peas comes on to the market this autumn in the shape of ‘Scarlet Tunic’. Released to raise funds in support of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, following the success of the poppy ‘Victoria Cross’ which has raised more than £50,000 for the hospital, 'Scarlet Tunic' is a very unusual blend of varieties.
Looking for a scented scarlet sweet pea to associate with the Royal Hospital, it proved difficult to find enough seed of the chosen variety to satisfy the huge demand that is expected. So Mr Fothergill’s and their suppliers set upon the idea of creating a blend of five different scarlet flowered varieties, four Spencers and a multiflora*.
‘Air Warden’ is an old favourite with a prolific production of scarlet flowers with cerise tints; another old favourite ‘Red Ensign’ is an especially vivid red. ‘Fields of Fire’ is a very well-scented variety that was raised by John Robson of Castle Douglas. It was awarded a Certificate of Merit in Scottish Trials in 2004 and tends to continue flowering after other sweet peas.
The well-scented ‘Hannah Magovern’ is scarlet and it too is well scented for a red, most reds have a weak scent. It was developed by Roger Parsons holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of sweet peas. ‘Kenneth’ is an early flowering multiflora type which should bloom a little before the others in the mix.
Together, the result is a lovely blend of scarlet shades with an unusually long season of bloom that also features an unusually good scent.
Sweet pea ‘Scarlet Tunic’ is available by mail order from Mr Fothergill’s and in special counter-top displays at garden centres across the country.
RHS advice: Growing sweet peas
Find suppliers of sweet peas in the RHS Find a plant
* Discover more about the different classifications of sweet peas, see High scent of summer, from The Garden magazine, Oct 2013.
Please note that the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS