[This is an update on a post which first appeared on my Simply Gardening blog which is for British gardeners. But this is such a great plant I thought that readers around the world would also like to hear about it.]
Perhaps the most stunning new sweet pea to emerge in recent years has been ‘Erewhon’ (above, click to enlarge). Developed in New Zealand by Dr Keith Hammett, ‘Erewhon’ is what is known as a reverse bicolour. Most bicoloured sweet peas have the standards (the upper petals) darker than the wings (the lower petals) – but not the other way round. But in ‘Erewhon’ the wings are darker than the standards. In addition, the vivid and penetrating blue colouring of the wings is exceptional. So, how did it happen?
Keith worked on reverse bicolours for twenty five years before his first, ‘Leading Light’, in pink and lilac, appeared in 2006. (This is no longer available.) But with the impact of genes from the relatively recently discovered Lathyrus belinensis, from Turkey, (right, click to enlarge) he was able to intensify the colours. This development was a by product of using L. belinensis to help develop a true yellow sweet pea; that quest for that continues…
The result is ‘Erewhon’. Erewhon is the classic Samuel Butler novel of 1872, pronounced E–Re-Whon (not Air-One); the first part of the book features a fictional account of Butler’s travels in New Zealand. The name is an anagram of nowhere.
In this captivating sweet pea the standards are pinkish lilac, with darker veins, and the wings are an amazing piercing blue. This is a Grandiflora type, like the old heirloom sweet peas which we always grow for their unsurpassed fragrance. In developing this completely new variety Keith ensured that the classic sweet pea scent is retained. And it has all the usual sweet pea qualities, reaching about 6ft/1.8m in height and with three or four flowers per stem.
I saw ‘Erewhon’ in a number of different places around the country this summer, and it always looked and smelled amazing. Better order it before stocks of seed run out. And why not try the pretty little Lathyrus belinensis as well?
Seed of sweet pea ‘Erewhon’ is available in North America from Annie's Annuals and from Burpee
Plants and seed of sweet pea ‘Erewhon’ is available in Britain from Simply Seeds and Plants.
Plants of of sweet pea ‘Erewhon’ is available in Britain from Hayloft Plants
Seed of sweet pea ‘Erewhon’ is available in Britain from English Sweet Peas, Owl’s Acre, and from Thompson & Morgan
Seed of Lathyrus belinensis is available in North America from Thompson & Morgan
Seed of Lathyrus belinensis is available in Briatin from Owl's Acre and from Simply Seeds and Plants.