From £6.48Colour: Dark maroon/almost black Stem: Long Height: 2m Type: Modern Grandiflora
From £6.48Colour: purple and deep crimson Stem: medium Height: 2m Type: heirloom Grandiflora
From £6.48Colour: ivory Stem: long Height: 1.8m Type: Spencer Scent: strong Flower
Barry Dare Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odorata Barry Dare) are one of the great all-round deep-coloured performers, combining the best features of the large-flowered, newer varieties with the scent of the smaller-bloomed heritage types. There's some debate over its actual colour - it's variously described as 'cherry red' or 'deep pink' - either way, it's one of the most vibrant in the our sweet pea range. The base of the petals are distinctly pink, merging into the main cherry red, making a fantastic, almost 3D contrast when seen en masse. As a Modern Grandiflora variety, Barry Dare has been bred to produce lots of large flowers on vigorous plants, reaching 2m. It's not surprising that it is a favourite of sweet pea exhibitors. Its lovely scent is an added bonus to the show-stopping blooms which also have the long stems of earlier Spencer varieties, so make excellent cut flowers for the house. Available as root-trained sturdy seedlings, Ashridge Nurseries takes away the hard work of germinating seeds for you, with garden-ready plants sent out at just the right time. However, if deep, saturated colours are not your style, why not check out the pastel hues in our sweet pea range?
Sweet peas are ideal to add a vertical accent to your borders, especially with the explosion of colour that Barry Dare creates. They're ideal for small gardens, as they take up a very small footprint. Don't be afraid to place sweet peas at the front of the border - they do reach 2m tall but you need to be able to appreciate the fragrance and flowers and deadhead them easily. As long as the support is decorative, sweet peas are ideal for 'breaking up' a garden - if visitors can't see the whole garden in one go, then they're enticed to explore and see what's beyond their field of vision. Grow them up canes formed into a wigwam with string or twine looped round to form a solid support and tied at the top. Obelisks and netting are also suitable to let them scramble upwards, as is growing on a trellis.
Once the tendrils have got a grip, there's no stopping them, although tying in young plants to the supports will give them an advantage. The vivid blooms of Barry Dare look great in a hot tropical border, with lots of clashing reds, oranges, yellows and purples, alongside plants such as Canna, Dahlias, Perovskia (Russian sage) and Pelargoniums (geraniums). However, if that look isn't for you, strike a patriotic tone using the red blooms with bedding, such as white Antirrhinum Royal Bride and Cosmos Purity or blue Agapanthus and Salvia. Sweet pea Barry Dare also grows well in large containers and pots - just make sure they get plenty of water and potassium (potash)- rich plant food, such as tomato fertiliser.
If you want to grow sweet pea Barry Dare mainly for cutting, grow up stout 6ft canes or hazel poles, tie in with string and remove excess tendrils - they can distort the straight flower stems if they wrap around them. Sweet peas are true climbers, grabbing on to their supports with tendrils. Once the plant has 'touched' the cane with its tendril, it spirals around the support to firmly anchor the plant into place. Don't forget to deadhead your plants daily. This encourages more blooms to form and keeps the plants producing flowers. If they do manage to set seed, the mechanism for producing flowers 'switches off', as the plant has achieved what it wants - the next generation.
At the end of the season, cut off the plants at ground level but leave the roots in the soil - as a member of the pea (legume) family, sweet peas 'fix' nitrogen from the air in root nodules. From there, the nitrogen becomes available to other plants in the form of ammonia and nitrates - free plant food!
The beautiful perfume of Barry Dare comes from the genes of the heritage sweet pea Matucana, which has the strongest scent of all the varieties. It's unclear where Matucana's origins lie, although some claim it is originally from Peru.