Charlie's Angel is a strongly scented annual sweet pea that was voted by BBC Gardeners World magazine in 2011 as the 'best ever sweet pea'. Its flowers have wavy petals in a heavenly shade of pale watercolour blue that fades to almost white at the edges. This classic modern grandiflora sweet pea has a place in every garden, clambering up over a wigwam of canes, over an obelisk or twining itself through arches and trellis, where its rich scent will perfume your garden. Its strong, long stems on a plant that grows to around 2m high mean it's the perfect specimen for cutting and bringing indoors to bring colour and scent to your home. It's bound to be a hugely popular addition to our range of sweet pea seedlings.
Try growing a celestial scented combination of Charlies Angel with other subtly coloured sweet peas such as Anniversary or Gwendoline, with which it partners very well – always, always in a sunny spot and up an obelisk, trellis or pergola, in a pot or a border, where it will wind its delicate tendrils quite happily, given a little encouragement early in its growth. Or plant it side by side with a perfumed rose: pale pink, highly scented Souvenir de la Malmaison, for example. Charlies Angel's pale lavender charms would set off the pink a treat and create a dreamy pastel-hued show. Either way, keep your sweet peas well watered. This particular sweet pea has long, sturdy stems, so it lasts well indoors in a vase. Other varieties are good for cutting too, among them pale, almost coral pink Heaven Scent and bicoloured pink and white Promise. And don't forget that, as with all sweet peas, the more you pick, the more flowers the plant will produce, so don't be afraid to fill your vases to bursting!
The Latin name of this English cottage garden favourite, Lathyrus odoratus, comes from lathyros, Greek for pea, and odoratus, fragrant. They're native plants of southern Italy, Cyprus and Sicily, so really not very English at all. In fact, it's said the first seeds arrived in England in the 17th century, having been sent over by a Sicilian monk.