Mother’s jug of birthday sweet peas.
Every year, on July 3rd, my mum’s best friend would roll up with a glorious bunch of jewel-like sweet peas for her birthday.
Auntie Elizabeth, it turned out, put a great deal of love into this little posy. Carefully nurturing her plants and selecting the brightest of varieties as she knew they were a favourite in our house. The sweet pea growing revolved round the big day and a dull and wet June was a depressing affair for this avid plantswoman.
But they were so worth all the trouble – for this one gorgeous bunch of flowers brought an incomparable joy into the house. The rooms were filled with this delicious, unique, subtle and altogether fabulous scent.
And today, when our gorgeous English-grown sweet peas arrive at Tudor Rose Florist I’m transported back in time on a wave of nostalgia to my mum’s birthday kitchen.
And it’s not just me – as I wildly enthuse to anyone calling into our shop in Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds, I realise that most of us have some wonderful memory of that beguiling smell.
Yes it’s short lived, the loveliness fades after a few days, but what a treat they are! A fleeting wonder of our early English summer – a delicate flower with an enormous aromatic punch.
The sweet pea, alongside the blousy garden rose, the scented narcissi and the delicate English bluebell, is perhaps the finest advocate of our much maligned seasons.
And when they’re in abundance we can’t get enough of them – especially for our beautiful wedding work. They’re packed into cascading church pillars with the evocative fragrance filling the cool space below and humble sweet peas are often the finishing touches of beauty in candelabra displays destined for grand tables.
However, a steel bucket filled with bunches of glorious scented sweet peas wins out over all the rest. Taking me back in time to my mum and her most treasured birthday gift…