Vivid tricoloured sweet pea has a super scent

Sweet peas featuring three colours in every flower are very rare, but this British-bred newcomer combines a vivid display with a strong fragrance

When a new sweet pea variety is flagged as “The first Modern Grandiflora tri-colour variety” we have to take notice. And ‘Three Times As Sweet’ certainly has three colours in each flower and those colours are intense, creating a vivid contrast.

Lathyrus x hammettii 'Three Times As Sweet'‘Three Times As Sweet’ was developed at Thompson & Morgan by their former plant breeder Charles Valin, who won the 2013 Reginald Cory Memorial Cup, given to encourage the production of new hardy hybrids of garden origin. He told me about his new sweet pea.

“It shows a typical white and magenta stripe pattern,” he said, “but with the back of the standard a deep purple, giving a tricolour effect to the whole flower. It has four or five flowers per stem, and the scent is intense.

“The lavender blue seen on the image can shift slightly towards magenta depending on temperature, or perhaps the age of the flower, but remains very eye catching in contrast to the white background and burgundy reverse.

Meet the parents

“This plant came from a cross made in 2013 between 'Matucana' and Lathyrus belinensis. The cross yielded about a hundred seeds. In 2014 only 2 seeds out of the hundred germinated, one died early but the other one reached flowering size. It had the very unusual colouring.

“This unique plant was selfed [self-pollinated] and proved more or less instantly fixed, with minor variations in colour intensity and seed germination. After four generations I decided it was stable enough to move it towards seed production.”

So “The first Modern Grandiflora tri-colour variety”? Well, yes. There are other tricolours in different groups, including Multiflora ‘Ella Mountbatten’, launched this autumn by Roger Parsons, and Spencer ‘Enchanté’, from Keith Hammett and introduced back in 2009 – both are similar to ‘Three Times As Sweet’ but come in noticeably more pastel, less vivid tones, and with less scent. ‘Three Times As Sweet’ is certainly the most vibrantly coloured - in the garden and in the vase - and there's also the "intense" fragrance inherited from 'Matucana'.

You can order plants of sweet pea ‘Three Times As Sweet’ from Thompson & Morgan.

You can also order seed of sweet pea ‘Ella Mountbatten’ and of sweet pea ‘Enchanté’ from Roger Parsons Sweet Peas.

Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and do not constitute an official endorsment by the RHS.

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