Celebrate the best of Ireland's sweet peas at this year's Annual Sweet Pea Show, hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin this weekend (18-19 July). It's your chance to see what the experts can do with this most loved of summer flowers as over a dozen of the country's top growers transform the Teak House into a sweet pea wonderland. The show opens to the public so you can see the prize winners for yourself from midday onwards.
Growing show quality sweet peas is something of an art, but it's fun to have a go yourself at home. Give yourself a head start by choosing Spencer types such as 'Gwendoline', 'Royal Wedding' and 'Windsor', bred to produce larger, more eye-catching displays, and train them as cordons – producing magnificent flowers on long, sturdy stems, perfect for cutting.
Tying in regularly is essential for good cordon sweet peas: aim to tie stems securely to supports every 45cm or so. Then whenever side branches form, pinch them out so the plant puts all its energy into one stem. At the same time, pinch off all the curly tendrils, too. The result is much larger blooms on arrow-straight stems, perfect for the show bench.
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