In the previous post I introduced you to the first two peas to flower in the Pigeon Proof Pen, now here are two more and as you can see in the following photo, they are very different from each other . . .
On the right is a shorter more compact group of pea plants, they are a new variety and have obviously been bred not require tall supports and it also looks as though it will have a large yield, it's named
I don't usually grow modern commercial varieties of pea, but Shiraz promises to be a purple-podded mangetout, which is the holy grail for pea breeders! Here is a review of Shiraz by plantsman Graham Rice. As you can see in the photo above, the whole plant is much more compact than an old fashioned tall pea; the flowers curl over coyly and there are two or more flowers on each stem. The wine red splashes where the leaves join the stalk is a tell-tale sign that the pods will be purple, I can't wait to see if the pods really are the colour of red wine AND tender enough to eat as a mangetout.
The pea on the left couldn't be more different in character . . .
When I saw this offered in Heritage Seed Library catalogue a few years ago, I couldn't resist adding it to my pea collection even though it doesn't have purple pods. It made up for it by having an amazing provenance:
"Thought to be originally from the garden of Lord Carnarvon at Highclere Castle, Berkshire. Lord Carnarvon, along with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in November 1922. Could this variety be a descendant of the peas allegedly taken from the tomb? A tall pea (150-180cm) that produces its white flowers followed by pods of sweet tasting peas at the top of the plants making them easy pick."
Well, it probably isn't a pea from King Tut's Tomb, but I discovered it's a beautiful pea to grow. Everything about it is big and robust – it towers over the Shiraz, it towers over me! and the leaves and tendrils are sturdy and huge. The flowers are pure white and are held elegantly on the end of long slightly arched stems, like art deco lanterns. I love growing Tutankhamun alongside my purple-poddeds, and he's already almost reaching the roof of the Pigeon Proof Pen!
The fifth pea variety in the Pigeon Proof Pen has yet to flower, but when it does I'll take some photos . . . and this one really is something different!