Round the back of my office is a hidden little row of houses, and this pot is blooming outside the front door of one of them. My colleague James reckons it contains a Polygala myrtifolia, or sweet pea bush.
A quick Google has revealed that sweet pea bushes flower pretty much all year in mild areas. Which got me thinking: is that a good thing? Surely the pleasure of most plants is that their beauty is fleeting?
I don’t know where I stand on this one. At the beginning of the year I told Huw, my long-suffering co-allotmenteer, that I wanted to pick raspberries from May till November. And we pretty much managed it, thanks to a combo of different varieties and some freaky weather. Was I bored of raspberries by November? No way – they’re my favourite fruit. We also had some sweet peas on the go for a similar amount of time (thanks to Huw’s staggered sowings). I loved them as much in autumn when they were short-stemmed and not very smelly as I did in high summer.
That said, I was quite happy to say a fond farewell to the raspberries and sweet peas when the time came. They were looking a bit strange next to pumpkins and leeks, and a combo of paperwhites and sweet peas on the table was looking rather odd. So I guess on balance, I’m all for a bit of extending the season as much as I can – but ultimately you can have too much of a good thing.
…Unless it’s a sweet pea bush, maybe. As a low maintenance, unusual attractive plant in a pot by a front door, I reckon it’s a pretty good choice.