Valerie Harrod is a gorgeously perfumed annual sweet pea that's hugely popular with exhibitors, who value its long stems, heady scent and large, wavy-petalled flowers in a rich shade of sunset pink, gently turning white towards the centre of each flower. It's a Spencer-type sweet pea, which means it's a beautifully pumped up version of the Grandiflora type, with bigger flowers and ruffled petals. If you're after something more subtle and classic, take a look at the rest of our sweet pea range. Grow Valerie Harrod in an open spot, against a warm wall, up a wigwam of canes or over a pergola, where she'll reach 2m, making sure you plant the seedlings where you'll be able to appreciate the fabulous perfume once summer comes. You'll also need to be able to get to the flowers to cut them, as it's a great variety for bringing indoors for vases, where the scent will fill your house.
What's better than a border packed with Valerie Harrod? One packed with Valerie Harrod and a few of her friends, of course. This coral-pink variety works well with other sweet peas in blush pink (try Mollie Rilstone) or shades of blue and lavender, such as Our Harry. Sweet peas are, of course, a cottage garden favourite, and as such they look wonderful with all the classic summer-flowering cottage garden perennials, such as lavender and roses. You can also grow sweet peas in pots, if space in your borders is limited, but do provide a network of support, such as a trellis or a wigwam of canes, and feed and water them regularly or they can become weak and mildewy.
At the turn of the last century, the king of sweet pea breeding was Silas Cole, a gardener who worked for the Spencer (Diana, Princess of Wales ) family. He named his first larger flowered wavy-petalled variety 'Countess Spencer', a bright pink flower he exhibited at the National Sweet Pea Society's first show, at the Royal Aquarium in 1901.