During the mid 1880’s the sweet pea became established as a popular garden plant and various plantsmen experimented with cross pollination and introduced new varieties. However, it was the work of a Scotsman, Henry Eckford, living in Wem, Shropshire who secured the future of the sweet pea. By skilfully crossbreeding he produced many new varieties, in new colours, with improve flower size and length of stem.
These varieties produced by Eckford are known as the ‘grandiflora’ or ‘old-fashioned’ sweet peas, they became very successful commercially as cut flowers and were widely grown by horticulturists for exhibition. By 1900, sweet peas had gained tremendous popularity.
Compared to the wild or original sweet pea varieties, the Grandifloras usually have clearer colours on the petals, they tend to bear more flowers on the stem and are more fragrant. The development of varieties with larger flowers and an aesthetically improved placement of the petals on the stem, with standards borne at a greater vertical angle and with the wings held more evenly made for much better display plants.
Named for the ‘Father of the Sweet Pea’ this stunning heirloom grandiflora type has dramatic orange blooms and is fantastically fragrant. ‘Henry Eckford’ is one of the original Antique or Heirloom varieties. Use for cut flowers or plant where their scent can be appreciated.