Growing trials of Sweet Peas have taken place for more than one hundred years at various locations. Whether they be at commercial seed growers’ nurseries or colleges and RHS gardens, their purpose is to compare the relative merits of different varieties and stocks of seed.
Trials should be set up to provide similar growing conditions across the plot, so that an unbiased assessment can be made against set criteria. The results can be published to give gardeners sound guidance when choosing varieties to grow.
As the number of varieties increased rapidly from the 1880s onwards, so interest in trialling Sweet Peas for independent comparison increased. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) held their first trial in 1894 and continued intermittently.
The first NSPS trial was held in 1906 and they have been held more or less each year since. From 1930, joint NSPS / RHS trials were held each year until 2015 when the RHS reverted to intermittent trials.
Entries are judged on their performance and awards are given for garden decoration, exhibition and floristry qualities. A report of the annual trials is published for members each year in the Sweet Pea Annual.
Anyone wishing to submit a cultivar for future trials should contact the society using the contact us buttons. Entries are normally invited in August each year and the seeds must be submitted by the end of September.