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David K

Hi, linzy...helping someone to grow sweet peas for a late spring wedding is something I've done (successfully) before on another forum and feel very proud of the outcome.....this involved wall to wall SPs i.e. church decoration, bouquets,  reception hall...the lot.

At this stage I would just suggest looking at the catalogues of sweet pea specialist growers to see colour options.... picotee varieties would be my recommendation.

Thanks David for the very quick response, I have been going back through this thread to see the advice you have given others, and noticed a comment you had made re a wedding you assisted with. I truly hope I can use your knowledge and my inherited green fingers (from my late mum- my 'homegrown' flowers will be a tribute to her all being well!) to produce some beautiful displays.
Could you point me in the direction of the other forum you mentioned?

I certainly will have a look - I see 'eagles' are your supplier of choice. Do they supply to the public?


drowning plenty of slugs, only 1 seedling nibbled but recovering soi far, planted rest out now, fingers crossed, most getting more leaves so will pinch out shoots in next few days, really hope i get as many flowers as last year, 1 thing, at the end of august last year all my sweet peas got totally covered in greenfly, i ended up chopping them down it was so bad, david, how can i stop this?

ps what's cheapest beer/lager anyone found for murderous purposes!!

Orchid Lady

Aldi do a really cheap one Rosemummy that apparently isn't very nice, might be worth a try 


David K
rosemummy wrote (see)

ps what's cheapest beer/lager anyone found for murderous purposes!!


Louise, perhaps I'm lucky, but the landlord from my local will give me as much beer as I need for the purpose. This is what they call 'slops'...when they tap a new barrel, they usually draw-off a couple of pints as wastage.

Other than that. just go for the low alcohol cheapos from your local supermarket.

David K

A SP table arrangement.


 Linzy - would be more than happy to help at the appropriate time.

I was fortunate inasmuch as the person I helped had, like you, gardening experience and was prepared to follow my suggestions to the letter......however she was tempted to pamper them at times.

Btw, you must have been very patient to have scrolled back to where I mentioned 'wedding sweet peas'....although I remember posting it, it seems way-back.

PS. The other forum was 'The Archers' messageboard, unfortunately it is now closed, alongside nearly all of them run by the Beeb. Having said that, I could let you have the email address of the lady in question if you contact me via a PM.

Edit: Yes, Eagle SPs are available to the public, but not the nursery itself.




Wow that is something! Beautiful. It's made me really determined to do it. But I think I have decided that while sp are probably doable, getting gyp to flower in may isn't going to be, so will accept my florist friend's very kind offer of the loan of her trade card to purchase some!

Thank you very much for the offer of guidance, I will certainly be as your other lady was in following your instructions. I am in the fortunate position (I think) of having a sun-trap of a South-facing back garden and a friend's allotment in which to produce my sp. The only thing I don't have immediate access to (but could easily be arranged if you recommend) is a greenhouse/cold frame system.

For now I shall decide which colour theme/varieties I like. Have I missed the boat on having a go this spring?
David K

You're welcome, linzy....minimum requirements would be a cold-frame and to be ready for the end of May would depend on some luck from the weather....the other wedding was in early June, although it was preceded by a cold winter & spring. Of course you would also need sufficient ground to accommodate the amount of plants you require.

The above picture was an entry at our village show.

There is still time to sow seeds in situ.  

I will try and arrange to 'inherit' mum's cold frame, and I'm going to have a go in situ this year I think- why not!

So do I plant straight into the ground or into grow tubes with seed compost etc?

David K

Linzy - Non of my business of course, but having knowledge of family weddings, I'm wondering if you may not be too busy for this SP commitment. My previous lady grower was doing it for her daughter's wedding......just a thought!

As for this year's directly sown seed, perhaps best sown now or in another week or so...they won't germinate until the soil warms up a little.

This is a very showy Eagle collection:


I tried sweetpeas for my wedding back in 1995. unfortunately, we got very hot dry weather for a good 6 wks previously. I had a great tan for the day, but my SP couldn't handle it, even with lots of watering. I now know they had powdery mildew, but how I wish I had had the benefit of this forum and David's expertise back then.

Linzy, I think the Gypsophila is easier to grow. It survived that yr when I lost the SP,s. Try it anyway, you canresort to your florist friend after if you have no success. But listen to David. I always thought I was being hard enough on my sp, but have been positively cruel this yr, reading this. They germinated in 18-20*C in prop, then got slung out into GH for 2 days at 2-3C, but were hot in day, so uot to CF for a day a bit cooler, then out altogether. They were started a month ago. Last batch started in unheated conservatory lower daytime temps, but a degree warmer than GH at night. Germinated more slowly, but straight outside once I saw enough were showing shoots. all romping on, am taking notes to see which do best, but I think the later started, colder grown ones already look stronger, if obviously shorter. They should have shorter internodal lengths, I think, which may lead to more flowering shoots eventually, as more potential shoots per length of stem.

I grow tender fuchsias for standard 'trees', and deliberately grow them warm with less light, to get lengthening between the nodes in the first yr. This grows a long 'trunk' quickly, with few nodes that want to flower along the stem. In the second yr, once they have reached the height I want, I keep them much cooler, only frost free, and they grow much shorter shoots then, allowing me to build a very dense, heavily flowering head. I tnink that Davids principles do the same. Having said that, this winter has been so mild that my fuchsias never dropped their leaves, but it was just cold enough that I will struggle to get the long cuttings I need to start new standards from the mother plants, but the established standards will romp away earlier with short growth and early flowering. Indeed, my oldest are flowering already, I had to nip off many buds and 3 full flowers yesterday. The weather could foil your plans, but grow'em hard, as David instructs, and they should be short and strong to start with, but should offer more flowers, than any softly grown ones. I have never grown from an Autumn sowing, axcept for my wedding, the only yr I had a complete failure. But I am entirely sure that that was down to inexperience to some degree, and the weather to a greater degree. They are so easy for beginners most times, and with David's help, you are not a beginner. But follow his instructions to every letter. Soil prep (very important for a timed crop),sowing and planting out times, pest control., picking before the date. Don't allow even one pod to form on a plant.the flowers only last a few days. The more you pick, the more you get. I think David will tell you to remove every single bud on evrey plant until a few days before your big day. Then the plant will be screaming to reproduce, and should throw out flowers left, right, and centre, in a frenzy, hopefully just in time. But I'm not sure you can get enough to make the kind of display David showed you, by your date. If only for table displays mixed with other plants, it depends on how many tables, the size of the vases, the mixer plants to hold them up.  I would grow plenty of complementary plants as well, so that the SP don't have to go so far. remember that the stems are slender with no leaves. It takes a lot to fill a narrow vase alone without fillers of some sort, and they don't last long in oasis. Take into account the amount of arrangements you need to make, and how late you can cut them to be fresh enough. If you are doing your flowers yourself, I would like to bet that you are

Wow thank you, yeah I am planning to bulk out with other 'English country garden' type flowers and the whole theme of the wedding is relaxed, hap hazard rather than perfect Oasis-type arrangements. I intend to research and have florist-bought back up available in case I flop completely. I'd love to do wall-to-wall homegrown sp but to be honest if I manage a few blooms on each table I'll be happy.

I've ordered some seed David, would you suggest mixing dine seed compost through the soil?
David K

Linzy - I'm sure what 'dine' compost is. However. as general rule the ground should be deeply dug incorporating as much compost/well rotted manure as possible....then a top dressing of bonemeal.

I've read Jeannie's interesting post and jolly informative it was too. I would just add that mildew will not be an issue in May, as it occurs later in the summer.....mostly prevalent during hot days and cold nights.

'Dine' is the word my stupid phone decided to use instead of 'some'. So you answered the question anyway- yes use some compost (seed or general?). Next year my homegrown compost should be ready.


David K

Ah, slight misunderstanding  the compost I had in mind in my previous post was homemade compost, well rotted leaf-mould or perhaps from a wormery etc.....seed, multipurpose or potting composts are quite a separate item.

Of course, you will know your own soil best and will able to feed it as required.  

Erm yeah. (No, I favour the 'plant it and see what happens' variety of shrub growing!)

david should i feed my sp's at all now? if so what? i fed tomato feed last year but once they'd flowered, managing to keep slugs at bay with beer/lager, emptying tins every other day, that makes me cringe i hate them so much, i put them in plastic bag in bin or down drain is this best thing to do?

David K

Louise - I have to agree, zapping slugs this way is a pretty yucky business.....stay brave, they will soon be romping away & immune from them (shall I change my avatar?)

I don't know what preparation of your soil you did prior to planting, but if you added compost/manure/bonemeal etc, they'll not need feeding until they start to flower.

What to feed? Providing it's a high potash feed, it doesn't really matter.

i dug in general compost this year and last year loads of manure