This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Lathyrus odoratus. Sweet Pea, or Vetchling.
Stylus planus, supra villosus, superne latior. Cal. laciniae superiores 2-breviores.
LATHYRUS odoratus pedunculis bifloris, cirrhis diphyllis, foliolis ovato-oblongis, leguminibus hirsutis, Linn. Syst. Vegetab. p. 663.
LATHYRUS distoplatyphyllos hirsutus mollis, magno et peramaeno flore odoro. Comm. hort. 2. p. 219. t. 80.
There is scarcely a plant more generally cultivated than the Sweet Pea, and no wonder, since with the most delicate blossoms it unites an agreeable fragrance.
Several varieties of this plant are enumerated by authors, but general cultivation extends to two only, the one with blossoms perfectly white, the other white and rose-coloured, commonly called the Painted Lady Pea.
The Sweet Pea is described as a native of Sicily, the Painted Lady Variety as an inhabitant of Ceylon; they have both been introduced since the time of Parkinson and Evelyn.
It is an annual, and not a very tender one; seedling plants sown in Autumn frequently surviving our winters.
As it is desirable to have this plant in flower for as great a length of time as possible, to have them early, we must sow them in the Autumn, either in pots or in the open border; if sown in pots, they can the more readily be secured from any severe weather, by placing them in a hot-bed frame, a common practice with gardeners who raise them for the London markets, in which they are in great request: others again should be sown early in the spring, and the sowings repeated every month; they grow readily in almost any soil or situation, and by this means may be had to flower most of the year through.
If sown in pots, care must be taken to water them frequently.