Day 84- Buy a bouquet of sweet peas

#108, Buy a large bouquet of sweet peas

Sweet peas are lovely flowers that have a fragrance like no other. They seem to be the very scent of Spring.

The scientific name of the sweet pea is Lathyrus Odoratus. It was derived from the Greek word “lathyros” which means pulse or pea. “Odoratus”  is a Latin word that means fragrant.

Sweet peas are the birth flower of April.

The poet Keats was believed to be the first person to use the name sweet pea. During his time (1795-1821), sweet peas were popular and were even used as the floral emblem of Edwardian England. The flower was cultivated because of its sweet smell and they were also an important component in their floral arrangements. No Spring grand wedding or dinner party would be complete at that time without the sweet pea. The flower was loved by Victorians because of its delicate perfume scent and its lovely pastel colors. (

My mother pointed out this large bouquet of sweet peas to me years ago when we saw Age of Innocence at the movie theatre.

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Since that day I have imagined a bouquet on my table just like it. I love their old-fashioned ruffles and their delicate fragrance. I grew several kinds of cottage flowers in the garden of my first home, and I trained sweet peas to grow up a trellis. I experimented with less popular colors like wine and green, but the lavenders and pinks ran rampant.

Growing sweet peas is probably a pre-drought luxury. Especially in the hot valley where I am now, but a vase on my table, filled with their frilly petals, will make my day.

Sometimes I see bouquets of sweet peas at fine grocery stores, but they are usually tiny expensive bunches. I figured the only way to amass a large bouquet was to head downtown.

For Angelenos this means the LA Flower Market. This is where florists all over the city get their wholesale flowers. Regular folks like me can pay $2 admission and arrive hours after the trade has done their shopping. Its a bit hectic to maneuver traffic and parking and general downtown nitty gritty, but it is definitely worth the effort.

I arrived at the LA Flower Mart and scoured every stall.

There wasn’t one sweet pea to be found.

I even went to all the independent stores up and down the street. I had arrived a bit late in the day, so I thought perhaps they were just sold out. Many of the wholesalers looked at me strangely when I asked for sweet peas. I know that the flowers are in season, so that wasn’t the reason. Note to self: find out the Spanish word for sweet peas.

I left empty handed.

It was a bit of a hike, but I headed back the following day.


Being so close to Easter, they had EVERYTHING.







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Well, they had EVERYTHING, but they didn’t have sweet peas.

My last ditch effort  was to head back to the valley and try Gelson’s Supermarket. The head florist at the Laurel Canyon Blvd. location, Gene, always has a beautiful selection of flowers and today was no exception.

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He even had sweet peas!


Now, I wasn’t about to buy all of them. It would have cost more than gas for a month, but I did come home with a lovely bunch.


Now the house smells like Spring.

Gene said that he wasn’t surprised that I didn’t find any downtown. He said that there is only one grower for all of Los Angeles! I’ll definitely have to find out more about that. Perhaps I can track the grower down and buy enough sweet peas to make my Age of Innocence bouquet in time for Mother’s Day.

It occurs to me that flowers, during the period of the film, held special meaning. My Aunt Pauline sent me this lovely little book a few months ago.


It is a guide to the Victorian meaning of flowers. When it comes to floral language, the sweet pea is associated with: delicate pleasure, blissful pleasure, departure, goodbye, thank you for a lovely time, and adieu.

That is a mouthful, for one flower, to be sure.

In Age of Innocence, Newland Archer gave yellow roses to Countess Olenska so it seems fitting that their meaning is Infidelity or Decrease of Love. However, his showering her with yellow roses seems indiscreet to say the least.

Here’s a riddle for you. Tomorrow’s post is going to feature a flower whose meaning is: You are rich in attraction.

While you think about that, here’s one more sweet pea for the road.

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281 days to go!






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