Wednesday, 23 June 2010


The bees now have two frames of brood. I found a queen, unmarked, and distinctly yellower than the one I originally spotted. They've had no chance to raise a new one, so the swarm arrived with at least two. That's not particularly unusual.
This is the Salmon-Flowered Pea, an amazing old variety with a raft of recessive genes. Pink flowers, thickened, fasciated stems, and all the flowers together at the top. They all bloom at once, unfortunately. The peas are small, round and sweet. I don't know how old this particular variety is, but umbellate peas with this general form were popular from the late 17th Century until the early 19th.
Robinson's Purple Podded Pea, from Robinson's Seeds. These are often sold as generic 'Purple Podded Peas', but they're all different varieties of old field peas, grown originally for dried peas and animal fodder. This one reaches around six feet. The type was first bred on the continent by Capuchin monks in the 15th Century.
Champion of England, a tall marrowfat bred in 1843 by William Fairbeard. Darwin grew this one.
Carruthers' Purple Podded, with a young pod.


  1. Your peas are looking good Robert. I have Salmon flowered and Carruthers producing at the moment, and Kent Blue - a fantastic little mangetout variety. Have you tried this?
    I've not grown Robinson's or Champion of England but my Magnum Bonum is going strong. Don't you just love June?

  2. Kent Blue is coming along fine. I have two varieties called 'Robinson'; their purple podded, and a marrowfat names after a guy called Robinson. I wish they had proper names!

  3. Lovely stuff, Robert, they look glorious. My Salmon Flowered is just going over but it's so beautiful while it lasts.

    I'll be interested to see your Kent Blue. I got some from the Heritage Seed Library a few years ago and a year or two later was given some more seeds by another HSL member and it was very clearly not the same variety. I don't know whether she sent me mislabelled seeds or the HSL had made a mix-up or I'm just going nuts. The Kent Blue I know has small and very speckly seeds and produces distinctive knobbly scimitar-shaped pods.

  4. Small and speckly seeds is right; mine looked just like the pics on your blog. The flowers are rather deep purple; it's too early to say what the pods are going to be like.

    Identities do get confused at times. I had some seeds sent as 'Mr. Bound's Bean Pea', which I thought would be pea beans. Instead, they were very large peas. I'm not sure what they are, but I'm convinced the name's been muddled at some point!

  5. Ah, if the seeds are small and speckly then that must be right. The alternative one I was sent had larger blue-grey seeds with no speckles. The deep coloured flowers sounds right too.

    Considering how easy it is to muddle things up, and how one mistake can lead to a wrong identity being perpetuated for ever after - I bet there are lots of things out there with the wrong names. Even among serious and devoted seed savers I see a lot of misspellings and minor errors as seeds get passed around. The HSL has to make up names for a lot of stuff donated without an identity, much of which probably exists elsewhere under other names. It is tricky ... most times you get sent seeds for things you've never grown before, so if somebody sends you the wrong thing you're none the wiser.

  6. That's one thing that annoys me. So many olds varieties lack proper names - yet I bet half of them are thee in the old catalogues, if we could only match them up!

  7. For info - my Kent Blue have the small, dark speckled seeds and the knobbly scimitar shaped pods. I find them a very nice raw pea and they cook beautifully too. They're going to be a regular here.

    They came to me in a seed swap with no information. I thought they would climb and gave them a 6ft wigwam which they are just about half way up! I also didn't know till I saw the knobbles, that they were a mangetout. I'm rapidly filling the gaps in my ignorance and you and Rebsie are a tremendous help.

  8. That fits the description of mine. I'm waiting to see whether the pods turn sickle-shaped and knobbly; it's too early to tell yet.

  9. Isn't it wonderful that so many people are keeping the old varieties alive and healthy!

  10. Hi Robert,
    Do you happen to have any spare salmon-flowered pea seeds that I could swap or buy from you? I have been looking for a UK supplier but cannot find one (or do you know of a supplier?)
    Best wishes (and great blog!)

  11. Of course, if you give me your address. I've set my profile to make it possible to email. Should have done that long ago!