I mentioned Henry Donald's charming little book A Bunch Of Sweet Peas a few years ago, but I read it again the other day and it doesn't fail to delight. It's a true story, about a sweet pea competition run by a national newspaper in 1911 and specifically about one of the entrants, Denholm Fraser, minister of the Borders village of Sprouston. As I said in my previous post, "what is staggering is the scale of the competition which Mr. Fraser went in for: 38,000 bunches of sweet peas were sent from all over the country for judging at London's Crystal Palace, the boxes unloaded from horse-drawn Royal Mail vans by 500 Boy Scouts "with Scout Masters to preserve discipline", all of whom were accommodated on the site in tents. Can you imagine the like of that happening today?" It's an uplifting tale, guaranteed to make you smile.
My sweet peas wouldn't win any prizes, but this first bunch of the year gives me a lot of pleasure. These were autumn sown (I have another batch of plants which were sown in the spring and are yet to flower), and they are from Sarah Raven's Onyx, Venetian, and Vintage Silk collections. I wish you could smell them!