Thrive Sweet Pea 'Eleanore Udall'

Now is a great time to sow your Thrive charity sweet pea 'Eleanore Udall’.

These have been exclusively created for Thrive by Thompson & Morgan and are being sold to aid our work, so if you haven’t done so already, please order some here.

If you have, and are poised to sow, read on! This is an easy to grow variety with pink flowers and an intense perfume, that will provide a stunning display and plentiful cut flower stems.

Although sweet peas can be sown during the autumn and over-wintered in mild areas, they can be sown now in pots giving them an excellent start for the growing season to come.  Alternatively, sow them directly into the ground in late March or April, though they will be slower to get started (more advice on this next month).

Sweet peas are deep-rooted, so are best sown in root trainer pots, grow tubes (or re-use those empty toilet rolls!) or in any deep pot. If using a larger deep pot, several seeds can be planted around the edge.

Thompson and Morgan advise against soaking the seeds before sowing, and suggest instead that the seeds are sown in multipurpose compost that has been well watered before sowing, and not watered again until the seeds have germinated.  The seeds should sown 1 cm deep, and then covered with newspaper or plastic to prevent drying out.

Planted seeds should be placed in a warm place – a propagator or in the house – to assist germination.  Once most of the seedlings have emerged the paper or plastic can be removed and the plant moved to cooler conditions to prevent them becoming leggy.  A glasshouse, porch or cold frame is ideal, but anywhere that is cool, light and frost free will do.

Once the young plants have developed three leaf sets, the growing tip should be pinched out to encourage more side shoots.  Plants started now may need a liquid feed at the end of March, ready to be planted out in mid-April. 

Advice by Neil Wilcox of Thrive and Kris Collins (pictured left) from Thompson & Morgan.

Story of Sweet Pea 'Eleanore Udall'

Eleanore was the late wife of the late Rev. Dr Geoffrey Udall who bequeathed us his Beech Hill estate near Reading in Berkshire where we now have our head office and gardens.

Thompson & Morgan aims to raise £10,000 for Thrive as their charity of the year with sales of this exclusive sweet pea and other fundraising events they have planned.

Over the summer 2015 we ran a competition to find a name for this pretty graduated pink sweet pea, and Eleanore Udall was chosen by Fiona Foote from Andover.

Fiona said: "I think it would be the most wonderful tribute to name the sweet pea Eleanore Udall after the late wife of the late Geoffrey Udall who was responsible for providing the garden and facilities for what started life as The Society for Horticultural Therapy, in the 1970s.  

"My mother, the late Mrs Hilda Foa who lived then at The Old Vicarage, in Beech Hill, was very involved in the start of this amazing charity, together with many other hard working people, including Mrs Mary Bayliss who has recently stepped down as Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.

"Eleanore Udall was a very kind, gentle person and she and Geoff (as he was always known) were a very philanthrophic couple, quietly but generously donating time and money to all sorts of causes.  

"Sadly she pre-deceased him, and when he had retired from being a paediatrician in London, he became ordained.  Trunkwell House had been his family home and his sister Gytha also lived in the village, on the road towards Mortimer, and he and Eleanore lived in Trunkwell Lodge.

"They had no children of their own but were full of kindness and took great interest in those of their family and neighbours.

"There will be very few people around now who remember Eleanore, as I do from my childhood, but I think it would be a very fitting memorial to the marvellous legacy that has been left by both of them, the success of which would amaze them both!"

We completely agree Fiona!

Thrive Chief Executive Kathryn Rossiter, said: "What a wonderful name for this very pretty sweet pea and such a fitting tribute.

"I hope our supporters and friends will buy lots of packets of sweet pea Eleanore Udall and we look forward to seeing pictures of the sweet peas in bloom.

"We will be selling packets of the sweet peas at Thrive via our website and through our various outlets with 100 per cent of sales coming back to us. Please do buy as many packets as you can. They will be available in January.

"We would also like to thank Thompson & Morgan for choosing Thrive as their Charity of the Year."

Thompson & Morgan horticultural director Paul Hansord said: "We know through social media that the therapeutic qualities of gardening are widely understood by many of our customers.

"We’ve seen how sowing a packet of seeds and growing the plants through the season can go a long way in helping improve both physical and mental health. Thrive does some amazing work in this area and we’re keen to help raise awareness and vital funds for such a good cause.

"Donating a sweet pea variety to the charity makes sense. They are easy to grow and produce impressive results no matter your skill level – anyone can grow them. They can also be sown from January to April and again from September to November, providing us with two long sales windows to maximise income for Thrive.

"Anyone who likes sweet peas should add 'Eleanore Udall’ to their sowing list for 2016."

Thompson & Morgan will also be supplying our garden projects with plants, compost and fertilisers which is a huge benefit to us.

Packets on sale now - buy on line.