Sunday, May 27, 2012


The first year we moved to this house, I bought four packages of sweet pea seeds and threw them into the garden soil. They grew and filled the garden with a tangle of multi-colored fragrant flowers.

And they came back year after year, as flowers faded to reveal fat seed-pods that dried, split and found a cozy home in the soil.

Gradually, I began to notice that each year's sweet pea crop was becoming more predominated by one color - a deep red-violet. Evolution - or devolution - had wiped out the more delicate strains of pale pink, cherry red or blue sweet peas, and left only this strong elemental variety - vigorous and strongly scented.

Observing the process of evolution through sweet peas is not a new idea - my high school science teacher taught us about Gregor Mendel, whose experiments with another pea species, pisum sativum, pioneered the modern theories of genetics.

It's been almost fifteen years since I threw those packages of seeds into my garden, and over the years the crop has diminished, due in part to Marcielo's diligent practices of winter garden cleaning. But here and there, a few remain, and twine up through the cistus or the rosemary, and give us the gift of their beauty and scent.


smalltownme said...

I love volunteers. My front flower bed has been taken over by a few daisy-like plants I put in years ago. They have reseeded themselves and spread and look like a meadow now.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Peas be with you!

Cassi said...

I would love to have sweet pea volunteers. I haven't had any luck growing them yet, but Emma planted some from seed this year --maybe we'll get lucky.

Last fall I spread some seeds from a friend, including Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist), and hollyhock. A few of them appear to have come up, now I just have to keep them alive :-)

Gilly said...

What a lovely thing to happen! Can't imagine sweet pea seeds remaining uneaten by mice or others or shrivelling up in a cold winter if they were planted here.

But I've a good mind to try it!