Tough decisions

I can’t remember if the honor of choosing Blithewold’s sweet peas was conferred on me or if I grabbed it like a greedy toddler (“Mine!”) but it’s one of those tasks that I enjoy so much it doesn’t feel like work. It reminds me of those years in Seattle when I made special trips to the Pike Place Market in June. I would walk the length at least twice in order to drink in the scent of thousands of sweet peas and choose the very best bouquet from among a dozen or so vendors. My handful of sweet peas had to have a good balance of dark colors, picotees, bi-colors, and pastels and at least a few rare apricot or orange blossoms to give it some pop. And it had to be at least $.50 cheaper than the priciest bunch.

Now I hem and haw over our seed order the same way. There must be a good balance of colors, stripes, picotees, etc; and a decent bargain in terms of number of seeds per packet, shipping rate, etc. I also feel I owe it to our visitors to make sure we have the best varieties: the newest and most interesting as well as the old favorites with the longest stems, biggest blossoms, truest color, and/or highest scent. I research availability, cross reference sources for price and try very hard to narrow my selection down to what might actually fit on the fence.

This year my search revolved around finding my Holy Grail. Back in 2007 I fell for one called ‘Nimbus’ that Sweet Pea Gardens hasn’t offered since. After failing last year to convince Unwins to change their policy about selling seeds to US customers, I thought I had given up. But ‘Nimbus’ will be on our order this year from another source, Enchanting Sweet Peas in CA. Their packets only contain 10 seeds, but their shipping cost is minimal and they offer price breaks the more varieties you order. Such a deal.

Now comes the hard part: choosing between sweet peas we’ve grown and loved, and new temptations. ‘Oban Bay’ I know is a gorgeous pale blue but could ‘Charlies Angel’, another pale blue one, possibly be prettier? Would our visitors appreciate as I would seeing the two varieties “trialed” together perhaps along with another pale favorite like ‘Blue Celeste’ or ‘Chatsworth’? Decisions, decisions… But it’s a difficulty worth savoring and one that, unlike any kind of forced choice made on a sinking boat or in a damaged country, reminds me how fortunate I am.

When you choose seeds do you opt for new varieties, familiar ones, or a bit of both? Do you savor the decision making process or tear your hair out a little? ‘Fess up, do you ever order more than you have room for?

4 thoughts on “Tough decisions

  1. Confession here. Limit to 1 or 2 varieites? Our nursery came into being because we could not restrain ourselves.

    Kathy, that’s too funny! I think I showed great restraint this year and have only order 12 different sweet peas. It’s usually closer to 20… -kris

  2. I really enjoyed this post because I love the look of sweet peas. I was very gung ho about growing some this year, but discovered they are poisonous. With two little boys, I’m very hesitant to put anything like that in our yard. I’m so bummed! But, I love those painted ladies. Have you looked at Seed Savers Exchange? They have a stunning blue, rare variety called Azureus. Like your Nimbus, it too is only 10 seeds, but it might be worth it to have that color to look at.

    Kira, I think sweet peas are one of those plants that make it worth teaching the kiddos not to eat anything they find in the garden – aside from their favorite veg, of course! I’ve never tried the azureus mostly because I’m drawn to the scented sweet peas (and am a little bit afraid of anything that looks vetch-ish.) Let us know if you try it! -kris

  3. I can almost smell them and remember that bouquet you so generously picked for me one summer long ago. The car smelled heavenly for days. I always order more than I can plant. What can I say? I have no defense.

    Me neither. It simply can’t be helped. You’re going to help us sow them all, right? -kris

  4. Tis, the season! Today iIwas looking at sweet peas at Chiltern Seeds, in UK. Saw many sweet peas in England last summer and got the bug! They have a wide variety and good prices even with the shipping. Spring is closer each day.

    Marianne, I am going to try to resist a very strong urge to check out Chiltern Seeds – I forgot about them! (They sell to the US, don’t they? – No. Stop that. I’m not even going to look!) -kris

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