Prior to the introduction of the waved Sweet Pea Countess Spencer, the raising of new varieties was almost entirely in the hands of Mr. Henry Eckford, and had been for a long series of years. As already mentioned, Countess Spencer was raised by Mr. Cole - head gardener to Earl Spencer, at Althorp Park - and sold by him to Mr. Sydenham, who sent it to America to be grown for seed, When the produce came back to Britain and was sold, it was found to contain many other varieties (some waved and some old type), besides Countess Spencer. This must have arisen through part of the stock seed being unfixed. No theory of insect cross-fertilization can ever account for what that stock contained. It gave Helen Lewis, John Ingman and many others which were isolated and fixed by different firms. There are two ways of obtaining new varieties. First by cross-breeding. Second, by watching for, and fixing, distinct variations or breaks which from time to time occur in standard varieties. Fine varieties like Mrs. Cuthbertson, Rosabelle (Dobbie's), Mrs. Hugh Dickson and New Marquis, originated as breaks, while Marks Tey, May Campbell, Elfrida Pearson, Melba, Dobbie's Scarlet and Hercules were bred from selected parents. Raising new varieties is very interesting and very fascinating work, but it takes years to achieve results. By results I mean the fixing a variety after it is raised and working up a stock to make it of commercial value. This need not however prevent the smallest grower keeping a look-out for "breaks," as seminal variations are rather improperly called. A pod or two of seed can usually be saved and the produce grown the following year to ascertain if it is fixed. Then if it is, it can be submitted to an expert to ascertain if it is ever likely to be of much commercial value.

The William Cuthbertson Operating On A Sweet Pea Plant
The William Cuthbertson Operating On A Sweet Pea Plant