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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Mangetout pea ‘Shiraz’: New from Thompson & Morgan

Posted by Graham Rice on 01 Dec 2011 at 01:04 PM

Mangetout pea 'Shiraz' has flat purple pods and is resistant to mildew. Image © ElsomsMany gardeners may find it difficult to get excited by a new variety of pea but this British-bred variety really is something new and different – and has value both as an ornamental and in the kitchen. ‘Shiraz’ (left, click to enlarge) is the first modern purple-podded mangetout pea.

Developed in Lincolnshire by one of Britain’s top vegetable seed breeders, ‘Shiraz’ features long-lasting, flat purple pods which stay in top condition for an unusually long time on plants of a manageable size. Also, importantly, it’s resistant to powdery mildew.

Purple-podded mangetout peas have occasionally been seen before, but the quality of the old heirloom types has been unpredictable. They’ve also been almost impossible to buy and often suffered from mildew.

“In response to demand for unique products, we first started breeding for ‘Shiraz’ in 2000 and that was followed by eight years of painstaking breeding and testing,” said John Constable, Crop Manager at Elsoms who developed the variety. “So it is great news to finally produce a marketable variety with a quality purple pod, good plant height and yield combined with resistance to powdery mildew.”

Reaching 3-4ft/90-120cm in height, its attractive two-tone purple and pink flowers are followed by a heavy yield of deep wine red pods whose seeds are exceptionally slow to develop so allowing the pods to remain flat and tender. First seen in a limited number of Marks & Spencer stores last year, seed is now available for the first time.

With attractive flowers and pods, ‘Shiraz’ is one of an increasing range of vegetables that both look good and taste good. “They're a very striking colour, really eye-catching and pretty,” said Colin Randel of Thompson & Morgan who are listing ‘Shiraz’ for the first time. “They're best enjoyed raw or in stir fry, where their colour will really stand out. They might even help kids think vegetables are a bit more fun,” he said.

Seed of mangetout pea ‘Shiraz’ is available from Thompson & Morgan.

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