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Cedric Morris’s revered sweet pea seeds now available in the museum shop

We were delighted to receive the news recently that the very beautiful and headily scented Cedric Morris sweet pea variety (Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cedric Morris’) has been distinguished with an ‘Award of Garden Merit’ by the Royal Horticultural Society, following trials this year at RHS Wisley. Of the array of old fashioned sweet peas trialled, Cedric’s stood out as notably floriferous, early-flowering, and long lasting: we very much agree! A wild yet elegant form of Lathyrus odoratus originally collected in Sicily, Morris’s pea was once a feature of the garden at Benton End, the artist-plantsman’s home in Suffolk. It was among the unique and colourful plants which made the garden a ‘paradise of pollen’ and a cherished rarity in its midcentury heyday.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Cedric Morris’ growing outside the Garden Museum, summer 2023

Cedric Morris was known for his generosity with plants, and in that wonderful way by which seeds travel both time and place, the sweet pea seeds were passed gardener to gardener: from Morris to his friend Tony Venison (former Gardens Editor of Country Life); from Venison, via a mutual acquaintance, to landscape designer Dan Pearson. In 2021, as the Garden Museum began its journey reviving Benton End as a place of art and horticulture, Dan sent seed to Matt, our head gardener, who has continued to grow it each year, harvesting seeds from plants grown both at Benton End and at the Garden Museum. Those who visited the museum last summer might remember their astonishing flowers perfuming the entrance!

Excitingly, we’ve packaged a limited number of Cedric’s sweet pea seeds, harvested from our plants by volunteers at the Garden Museum. Packets will be on sale in the museum shop, available from next week.

Now is a great time to sow sweet peas indoors for planting out in spring.

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