Salmon Flowered Peas

Each time I go to my plot I find a welcome sight, whether it is bees buzzing, the grape vine that is putting on great new growth, or the Californian Poppies giving me a blast of colour.

The peas are starting to climb, the tendrils reaching out to the next cane or piece of string, flower buds appear and flourish and small pea pods emerge to fatten up. But I thought today you might like to see a special pea – Salmon Flowered. I picked half a dozen seeds up in a swap a couple of years ago, and managed to grow and save more seeds for future years and swapping. It is a heritage pea dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries which has since gone out of fashion as the big commercial growers focus on the bumper packed, uniform, easily grown and picked peas.

It’s an unusual pea – a climber, but actually not reaching that high – maybe 4ft, but what makes it so distinct are the flowers which form a “crown” at the top of the growing stem. The flowers as you can see are two-tone with a deep pink inner and a lighter salmon-pink outer. They make for a pretty summer sight.

The peas themselves are small with 4 or 5 to a pod. And if you leave the peas on the plant to dry to save seeds, the pods turn a pinkish colour too. And the all important taste test? Sweet enough straight from the pod. Perfect for a mid morning snack on the plot. If you do really want to cook them – lightly and quickly steamed is the way to go.

If you want to read more about Salmon Flowered Peas – this blog is a great place to start.

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91 comments

  • A beautiful plant – worth it for the display, never mind about the bonus of fresh peas. We grow mangetout – productive but not as showy, but sweet peas don’t seem to do well in the heat here. What there are in abundance are wild peas of the Lathyrus family, some of which will feature on my blog (an entangled bank) soon. Soon ish. Sometime, anyway.

    • I haven’t come across wild peas before – we used to have wild sweet peas in a garden in London, small but not as scented as the domesticated kind. I’ll look forward to your pea post 🙂 Sorry I couldn’t help that one 😉

  • I never saw a pink salmon colored flower on a pea blossom before. Beautiful shots. Who is the lucky one who gets to shuck all the peas when is season?

    • They were new to me as well BAM. I love the word shuck – I see it when I read posts about seafood, I think I should adopt it. There’s a real pleasure to shelling peas and to be honest we are both happy to sit and do it – besides you get to eat any tiddlers that ‘accidently’ fall away from the bowl 🙂

    • Isn’t it Karen, since I started to grow veggies I’ve realised there are so many pretty flowers – I enjoy seeing the flowers on potatoes or aubergines – so delicate and pretty

  • Pretty, tasty, and only about 4 feet tall?
    I need those for next year!
    I’ve never seen a colored blossom on a sweet – or English pea, as we sometimes call them here! – only on runner beans.
    Are you melting in the heat down by the shore? Or is that only in the city?

    • Marie, yes only 4ft tall – I have them on a wigwam style cane structure but you could use strong netting or wire to prop them up. I’d forgotten about “english peas” – makes me smile! and I think you definitely need them for next year – they are a bit of a novelty to grow but peas are peas and they taste great.
      And yes the sun came out today – result, I was planting the courgettes, cucumbers and gherkins in the heat. Joy!! Mind you living by the coast we nearly always have a slight breeze, and the big body of water cools things down, it’s the humidity that get’s to me. City heat is a very different thing, I’m in London tomorrow so maybe I’ll be reminded of how it feels again 🙂

  • Wow, the color of the flower is amazingly beautiful. I have never seen these before. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful pea story.

  • how extraordinary, so very beautiful, what a great chance you obtained some and are keeping it going … be sure to pass some seeds on to other keen growers 🙂

    • I grew them last year and mostly saved seeds for a seed sharing circle, this year I’ll save a few but the aim is to be eating as many as possible!

  • Peas are so tasty and so very pretty as they are growing – I’ll just have to enjoy yours though as they don’t like our Andalucian heat 😦

    • They do look like sweet peas don’t they – a lot of people come to my plot and assume the canes are full of swet peas – but as much as I like a few flowers I like to eat my efforts!

  • Those are pretty stunning pea flowers Claire! I’d be tempted to put them on the table just as they are! I think I need to put these on my list to plant….you think I might be able to plant late summer here for cool weather Fall harvest?

    • It is tempting, but I just think of all those potential peas and I’m happy to enjoy the flowers on the plants! Hmmm, it would be interesting to try growing them as a cool season crop. I know a few fellow bloggers who grow peas in Houston and I think they do the same – or in very early spring befor eit get’s too hot. It would only cost a few seeds, and if it worked – WOW what a treat!

  • Those are so beautiful! I love the color. I’ve never seen peas that flower in a cluster like that.

    • This will make you laugh – when I grew them last year I had no idea that’s how they grew and I worreid that something had gone wrong, the joy that is google search solved my worries!

  • Just beautiful! I would have known you’d be interested in preserving some heritage seeds, Claire! These little sweet peas would be such an invitation to enjoy the garden. I am so glad you shared about them. I’m sure they would never make it all the way home if I were there! It’s delightful to see your garden coming to summer life! Debra

    • Thank you Debra, we had a beautiful blue sky and warmth today, so summer is around the corner (crossed fingers!). It’s been a lot of fun to search and find heritage varietoes to grow – so many have been lost but thanks to keen gardeners and a few specialist growers they are making a come back, and it’s a pleasure to be part of that. Especially when they are as pretty as these beauties!

  • These peas are really something, Claire, and I’m glad someone had the forethought to preserve them. Those colors woud really stand out in a garden. Getting peas, too, is really icing on the cake. They’d be a nice addition to any garden.

    • I think they would look pretty in any garden John, especially an English style cottage garden. And yes thankfully there were some lovely people who saved and shared these precious varieties for other generations to enjoy!

  • These are beautiful–nice enough just for flowers. The seed swapping really sounds like a great idea–for preservation as well as fun, beauty and good flavor (one of my CSAs does some amazing heritage tomatoes)

  • They are beautiful. My neighbour on the allotment is growing broad beans and the flowers are red very very attractive but I dont know what the crop will be like. I dont know whether the growers are breading new produce to be attractive but would it take away from the productivity and flavour. I hope you can tell us when you have harvested all your beautiful peas whether you had a good crop or not.

    • I’m trying some red flowered broad beans this year as well, I’ll ave to wait to see if they are worth it in terms of taste and flavour.
      I grow a lot of heritage style peas, it seemed I never had any luck with the short varieties but the climbers do ok for me. I think my favourites are Champion Of England and Telephone – big pods, sweet tasty peas, and heavy croppers. I’m not sure I will get a bumper crop this year as Spring really was a wet cold one. Time will tell….

  • As I look out at my garden of weeds with a few pots of herbs just getting going, I think of you and your lovely garden. These peas are so pretty and I’ve never had peas fresh from the garden so there’s just a bit of wistfullness but no real desire to put in the time and effort myself. I’ll enjoy your garden vicariously. 🙂

    PS: Just gathered some Thai Basil seeds from the “Siam Queen” plant I bought last year, and whose flowers I saved and dried in a giant paper bag. I planted 7 seeds yesterday. I’m thinking of doing the same to the Sweet Dani lemon basil seeds I have. But it’s SO hot this week.

    • gardening vicariously sounds like a pleasure! And Thai Basil is a favourite – it is really hard to get fresh so growing our own is the only real option, and as luck would have it I picked up some seedlings at our plant sale at the weekend.

      • I made summer rolls this past weekend and was looking for some fresh leaves but my local chinese grocery store didn’t have any small potted plants to sell yet. “Tomorrow” I was told … too late for my rolls, unfortunately. Oh well, next month I should have some nice big plants. (keeping my fingers crossed)

        • I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, it has such a unique flavour – I like to do a qucik stir fry of prawns and greens with the Thai Basil and now you have reminded me that I want to taste that flavour in the fresh/summer rolls too!

  • The color of the flowering peas is exquisite! Can’t wait to see the color of the peas after harvest. Just beautiful photos! It’s a very rewarding experience to view your garden as spring flows into summer.

    • They are so pretty deb, it’s hard to do them justice in the photos! the peas are green and then dry to a pinkish colour. I also grow some purple podded varieties and sadly it is only the pod that is purple! But they do look so bright and cheery growing.
      I like your words ‘Spring flows into Summer’ so rythmical

  • Thanks so much! I love to “find” varieties I have never seen, and this is one! I am absolutely going to learn more about them now! Again, thank you.

    • You’re so welcome! It was one of the reasons I started to blog – growing the heritage varities / seed saving and keeping them alive in more ways than one, so I’ll take a compliment if I may 🙂

  • Really gorgeous plant and blossoms, and like so many others here, I’d never seen one of this variety before. It looks like a heritage plant, so delicate and old fashioned, somehow. A beautiful addition to the garden and to the table!

    • I nearly forgot to post the photos, they were mostly taken at the weekend when I was in a rush, so judging from the reactions I’m pleased as punch that I remembered 🙂

  • Hi Claire .. such beautiful flowers … they look like a bouquet flourishing on the stem, Lovely. And how wonderful that they are of such an old vintage ..a bit of history saying “hello” to the present.

      • Thanks! It’s like a sort of time travel isn’t it? Someone, centuries ago, somehow developed this particular pea seed … it’s travelled through time .. and now you have it. Touching hands with the past.

  • I love fresh, raw peas…these are especially tempting, with their pretty flowers. I hope you feel like the hero you are, helping to save the heirloom varieties from being forgotten. Thank you!

    • Gosh certainly no hero here! I happened upon a discussion a few years ago about seed saving, was encouraged by it, and got support and here we are a couple of years later, still very much learning! But seed saving and swapping is easy to do once you suss a few basics out – peas and tomatoes are a great way to start 🙂

  • Funny.. in my mind “sweet peas” are flowers and “SWEET peas” are peas to be eaten.. lol.. guess they’re one and the same. I am hoping to dig up another patch of my garden and get some sweetpeas planted there. I’ll look for your variety, but doubt I’ll see it here! xo Smidge

    • Ah, I keep learning. I now understand that these are English Peas. I don’t know what you guys call sweat peas as in the flowers for picking. Oh heck this could get confusing !!!

  • Claire, You know as soon as I read your post I went looking for them… You seem to be about the only person I know that has any. Can you point me to a source for the seed? Thank you!
    ~ Lynda

    • They get passed around in seed swaps Lynda, I have yet to see them offered by a commercial grower. Let me go and look and see what I can find from some of my favourite sites. If not, I could probably rustle a few up for you from this year’s crop, the pnly problem would be customs, I’m not sure they would make it through? Let me go and see if I can find any UK or European suppliers. Fingers crossed!!

    • Thank you Shimon, the flowers forming a crown mean you can peer down on them and enjoy them en-masse. Once the flowers go the pe pods should start forming, and that’s when I really get excited!!

    • I remember over winter reading blogs from the southern hemisphere and longing for sun and warmth and gardening and realising I was enjoying gardening vicariously through the blogs 🙂

  • Beautiful! So I leave the pea pod to dry on the bush? Maybe we can do a trade Claire–I would be so happy to have some of your peas!

    • Hi Stacey, yes I leave mine on th ebush for as long as possible – but I have a problem with mice eating the dried peas so I do pull them up just before they are dry – I then hang the bush up and dry for a bit more and then pull th epods of the plant and continue drying them in a bowl indoors. they need to be completely dry. And yes lets 🙂

  • I just found the salmon flowered peas!!!! I have been looking for them everywhere…. would you be willing to share some seeds? They are beautiful.

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