Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday's sweet Flowers

Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things
To bind them all about with tiny rings."
John Keats

Interestingly, the origin of the sweet pea in the wild has been greatly disputed. The first written record appeared in 1695. Francisco Cupani, a member of the order of St. Francis, noted seeing sweet peas in Sicily. There is no documentation of whether the sighting was in the wild or in the botanical garden in the village of Misilmeri (near Palermo) that was under his charge. It was not until 1699 that Cupani passed on the seeds of the enticingly fragrant, small bicolor flowers (blue and purple) to Dr. Casper Commelin, a botanist at the medical school in Amsterdam. In 1701, Commelin published an article on sweet peas, which included the first botanical illustration.
Historians presume that Cupani also sent seeds to Dr. Robert Uvedale - a teacher and aficionado of unusual and new plants - in Middlesex, England at the same time as he sent them to Amsterdam. This assumption is based on a herbarium specimen that Dr. Leonard Plukenet made in 1700, noting the plant’s origin as Dr. Uvedale’s garden.
Although the exact origin of the sweet pea is uncertain, the original Cupani variety, a bicolor with purple upper petal and deep blue winged petals, is available to gardeners still under the name Cupani! (courtesy Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University)

That first sweet-pea! I wonder where it is.
It seems to me I laid it down somewhere,
And yet, -- I am not sure. I am not sure,
Even, if it was white or pink; for then
'Twas much like any other flower to me,
Save that it was the first. I did not know,
Then, that it was the last. If I had known
--But then, it does not matter. Strange how few,
After all's said and done, the things that are
Of moment.

from Renascence Edna St. Vincent Millay


Marianne said...

Mercy, thank you, they're all breathtaking and I can just almost smell them...beyond lovely.

Leslie Shelor said...

Sweet peas are my favorite. There are some here that probably escaped from my grandmother's garden a long time ago.

Inland Empire Girl said...

After numerous posts about sweet peas this summer they will definately be added to my list next year. I have more shady spots now also.

Granny Smith said...

What wonderful sweet pea photos and quotes! I have been out of web range for a week and will be next week also, but one of the first things I did when I arrived home (temporarily) was to access your wonderful blog! Thanks again for sharing!

Julie Marie said...

I love sweet peas but have no luck with growing them. Thanks for the story about the original sweet pea.